Tag: decisions (page 1 of 2)

Xero starts using consent-based decision making

Sociocracy, which includes consent-based decision making, is something we use at WAO. I’ve written about it several times on my personal blog as well as here.

It looks like the approach is working not just for yogurt-knitting vegans who work in co-operatives, but hard-nose businesses like Xero. Who knew?

For the past year, I’ve been lucky enough to work on a big technology project at Xero, where I spend much of my time supporting the leadership team. But it didn’t take long for me to realise that when you have a large number of people bringing their own perspectives and opinions into a complex situation, consensus is going to be challenging (if not impossible).

So I decided to introduce consent-based decision making to the leadership team. It’s something that a colleague introduced me to last year. It’s had such a positive impact on my work that I thought I’d share more about it, in the hope that you can use this simple technique in your team as well.

Source: Making better, faster decisions that are good enough for now | Bonnie Slater

Good decision-making

Some useful advice from Ed Batista about the difference between ‘good decision-making’ and ‘making the right decision’.

I believe the path to getting unstuck when faced with a daunting, possibly paralyzing decision… involves a fundamental re-orientation of our mindset: Focusing on the choice minimizes the effort that will inevitably be required to make any option succeed and diminishes our sense of agency and ownership. In contrast, focusing on the effort that will be required after our decision not only helps us see the means by which any choice might succeed, it also restores our sense of agency and reminds us that while randomness plays a role in every outcome, our locus of control resides in our day-to-day activities more than in our one-time decisions.

So while I support using available data to rank our options in some rough sense, ultimately we’re best served by avoiding paralysis-by-analysis and moving forward by:

  1. paying close attention to the feelings and emotions that accompany the decision we’re facing,
  2. assessing how motivated we are to work toward the success of any given option, and
  3. recognizing that no matter what option we choose, our efforts to support its success will be more important than the initial guesswork that led to our choice.

This view is consistent with the work of Stanford professor Baba Shiv, an expert in the neuroscience of decision-making. Shiv notes that in the case of complex decisions, rational analysis will get us closer to a decision but won’t result in a definitive choice because our options involve trading one set of appealing outcomes for another, and the complexity of each scenario makes it impossible to determine in advance which outcome will be optimal.

Source: Stop Worrying About Making the Right Decision | Ed Batista

The impact of decision fatigue

I remember reading that Barack Obama only had two colours of suits while President of the USA, because making lots of small decisions inhibited his ability to make larger/more important ones.

Decision fatigue impacts our ability to choose between several options, causes us to make impulse purchases, and can even lead us to avoid decisions entirely:

  1. Impaired ability to make trade-offs. Trade-offs feature several choices that have positive and negative elements. They are a particularly energy-consuming form of decision making. When we are faced with too many trade-offs to consider, we end up mentally depleted, and we make poor choices.
  2. Impulse purchases. When shopping, decisions regarding prices and promotions can produce decision fatigue, depleting our willpower to impulse purchases. This is why snacks are usually displayed near the cash register: by the time they get there, many shoppers have decision fatigue and may grab an item they hadn’t initially intended on buying.
  3. Decision avoidance. Sometimes, our mental energy is so depleted, we completely avoid making a choice. We may as well try to bypass the mental and emotional costs of decision making by selecting the default option when one is available.

Interestingly, poorer people are more prone to decision fatigue. “If a trip to the supermarket induces more decision fatigue in the poor than in the rich — because each purchase requires more mental trade-offs — by the time they reach the cash register, they’ll have less willpower left to resist the Mars bars and Skittles. Not for nothing are these items called impulse purchases,” explains Dean Spears from Princeton University.

Source: Decision fatigue: how a burden of choices leads to irrational trade-offs