"I think it's your spotlight."
"The limits of my language are the limits of my world." - L. Wittgenstein
The Fundamental Theorem of Decision Making:
You should judge a decision by the process and not by the outcome.
"Do we have the right data? Are we too spotlighted on what's here in front of us?"
What are Your Unknown Knowns?
"Are you seeing just what you'd like to see?"
Is that a Fact or a Judgment?
Be skeptical -- there is a lot of Bullshit to be wary of. For example, stuff like this (in my judgment):
Is it a Duck or a Rabbit?
"Losses hurt more than gains feel good."
"You're wearing a red shirt."
It is easy to state the Fundamental Theorem, but it's difficult to apply it.
Be sure *not* to read the critical word out (i.e., "sleep" and "doctor") when reading the list.
Remember: Dance, Don't Fight
"Make your drummer sound good." -- T. Monk
Be sure to get multiple spotlights -- especially for big decisions. Talk to people. And listen. ("You're wearing a striped shirt.")
Tips for Meetings (Group Decisions)
- Give people time to read and prepare at the start of the meeting. 15-30 minutes of just silent reading.
- Specify the objectives of the meeting. (You may or may not want to do this before the preparation step.) Then discuss whether those are the right objectives. (Remember: Why is that important?)
- Identify alternatives that are compatible with the objectives. While doing so, make sure that you avoid getting too stuck in one person's spotlight. If you're the boss, make sure you don't anchor the others -- they'll then just parrot your spotlight.
- Discuss key uncertainties. What do you know? About what are you uncertain? Are you red curving?
- Discuss possible ways in which your discussions and decisions may have been biased during the preceding discussion. Can you name any cows?
- Iterate. Dance.
Throughout, keep in mind the metaphor of moving through the decision space.
Discourage apathy! One way to do that is by avoiding lousy, boring ppt presentations. When possible, discuss -- don't just have someone present to a bored group.
Engage. Listen. Dance, don't fight. Name cows. Enjoy.
Make all of this part of your company's culture -- and part of the way you think in general. Don't be that guy on the street.
If you do have good stories of how you made this work for you, please let me know.