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Rational Decision-Making

I've been going through some of my old notes and decided to pull a couple of them together for another post. Decision making is an interesting subject, something that applies to all spheres of our lives - from everyday decision making, to economics, politics, etc. In some cases it is desirable to delay making decisions as long as possible - "I've learned one thing in politics. You don't make a decision until you have to" (Margaret Thatcher); in some we need to make decisions quickly - the rapid-fire decisions that make up our daily lives. Sometimes we need to rely on intuition and instinct, sometimes it is necessary to carefully consider and weigh a complex set of inputs and variables. But regardless of the circumstances we can benefit from getting rid of myths surrounding decision making and becoming more aware of the inner processes we use to make those decisions. For example, the following article from the Harvard Magazine: "The Marketplace of Perceptions" tackles the myth of purely rational decision-making:
"Economic Man makes logical, rational, self-interested decisions that weigh costs against benefits and maximize value and profit to himself. Economic Man is an intelligent, analytic, selfish creature who has perfect self-regulation in pursuit of his future goals and is unswayed by bodily states and feelings. And Economic Man is a marvelously convenient pawn for building academic theories. But Economic Man has one fatal flaw: he does not exist."
As far as gaining awareness, I really like the book by Garry Kasparov - "How Life Imitates Chess: Making the Right Moves, from the Board to the Boardroom", it is not a guide or a self-help manual, but it has some great material:
"You must become conscious of your decision-making processes, and with practice they will improve your intuitive - unconscious - performance. This is required because as adults we have already formed our patterns, good and bad. To correct the bad and enhance the good you must take an active role in becoming more self-aware... Awareness can mean the difference between a harmless habit and a bias that leads to a dangerous loss of objectivity."    
I also moved the following short video from the "Life As A Game Or The Game Of Life" post as I think it makes more sense here. It also suggests that most of the time we are far from being rational and logical:

To round things up, here's a quick quote from Chris Curran's (CTO of Diamond Management & Technology Consultants) blog to highlight the importance of good decision making:
"Projects with the poorest outcomes came out that way not by surprise, but after a series of interim decision points during which leadership reviewed the major project issues and alternative courses of action, and selected one course they thought would best right the ship."
So, get a hold of your decision making processes, understand and analyze them, manage your biases to improve objectivity, combat your weaknesses and empower your strengths, allow your mind to wonder and let creativity flourish, exercise your intuition, and don't be afraid to fail. Learn and train yourself to make better decisions! 


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