June 20, 2013

Decisions, Decisions

Marc Hogan was bet £1 that he couldn’t become a stand up comic in less than 12 months and perform a one man comedy show at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival for 21 nights. He won the bet!

A wrong decision is better than indecision.”

Tony Soprano played by James Gandolfini, 1961 – 2013 RIP*

Sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the decision right.”

Dr Phil

I’ve made 3 brilliant decisions in my life:

1) Propose to Kirsty (she’s brilliant and she spell checks all my blogs)

2) Accept the bet, go to Edinburgh and do a one man show

3) Adopt Henry a 3 month Dalmatian from Battersea Dogs Home (he’s mental, but they say dogs take after their owners…)

All of these decisions have turned out to be pretty good ones (so far) but before I get a little too smug nearly all these decisions were ‘whether or not’ decisions.  By which I mean a single choice of whether or not to do something.

We do this all the time, take decisions by asking, for example, whether or not you should buy an iPad; whether or not you should quit your job; whether or not you should continue to read this blog or watch this cat video on you tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Bmhjf0rKe8.

In his book ‘Why Decisions Fail’ Professor Paul Knutt analysed 163 business decisions by interviewing CEOs then cross checking their reports with other senior managers who had watched the decision process. Finally he evaluated whether the decision taken was successful.

Nutt found that over the long term, Whether or Not decisions failed 52% of the time compared with a 32% failure rate for decisions that had two or more alternatives.

Nutt believes that when you pursue a single option you spend most of your time asking, “How can I make this work?” or “How can I get my colleagues behind me?”

I see this all the time (as did Tony Soprano and Dr Phil…).

So what would happen if you asked yourself or your team whether there was a better way, or what else could we do?

Chip and Dan Heath authors of ‘Switch’, ‘Made to stick’ and ‘Decisive – How to make better choices in life and work’ have some good advice to help you make the right decisions more of the time.

I especially like their ‘vanishing options test’. It’s simple. When you think that you (or your team) are not considering the full range of options, try asking this question:

“That option you were considering? It just disappeared. Now what are you going to do?”

Asking that one question, and considering the responses, may turn a mediocre decision into a great one. However, whether or not you take the advice is up to you! Oh and if you haven’t watched that cat video do it now, it’s rather cute…

*James Gandolfini was a  great actor who played Tony Soprano one of the most interesting, funny and conflicted characters ever on TV. My thoughts go out to his friends and family.

Click here to watch Marc’s showreel. If you would like to find out more about Marc, visit www.marchoganlive.com or to book him for a speaking event please contact your favourite speaker bureau.


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