Making decisions

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss the GTD Methodology' started by Anonymous, Dec 9, 2003.

  1. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    Well, I had thought about adding a winking-smiley. Would that have made it better?

    In all seriousness, at least some people who embrace GTD also have a high degree of faith in rationality and methodology. I've come to believe that we as humans don't work that way, even when we think we do. When my wife and I were in graduate school and had, ah, limited incomes (we were so poor we split a candy bar once a month as a treat), we used a very traditional method for making a decision: a table of decision factors with weights (we're both scientists). Quite often, the answer the method gave was one we both rejected. We always went with our gut in those cases, and never regretted it. So I would add "no method" to the list of methods, which is methodologically suspect but nevertheless correct. o_O
     
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  2. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    Fair enough, and on that score I actually agree with you. In fact, I don't have a high degree of faith in people's absolute rationality -- mine or anyone else's. If people were 100% rational this would be a very different world.

    You're right, I did make it sound like my decision-making process is more rational than it is. Maybe I should have said, "Ideally when I make a decision I should..." Were you to ask my girlfriend, she'd tell you I might be well-served to do a bit more thinking prior to making big decisions rather than less. I tend to trust my gut, for better or for worse.

    My point was that for me -- and I can't emphasize the phrase "for me" strongly enough here -- next actions that don't describe a physical, visible activity tend to repel me from using my lists for much the reason DA describes in GTD: because it means there's more thinking to do about what's needed, at a level I tend to resist wanting to do when I'm in the heat of a hectic day. If I'm not ready to make a decision, putting "make a decision" in an action list or on a calendar won't move me to do it. But I accept that others may be different. What I'm trying to offer @Jan Ernest is simply this: if you're like me and you find creating a reminder item stating "make a decision" doesn't work for you, here's something else you can try.

    But I get what you're saying, @mcogilvie -- it may be that sleeping on it or flipping a coin will be as useful as convening a meeting or creating a flow chart. I've always liked the bicycle analogy: if you start pedaling in the wrong direction you can always turn around, but if you try to stay stationary you'll lose your balance and fall off.
     
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  3. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    What snark? I love @mcogilvie 's comment about "our perception of our own rationality". I've written a whole book about rational decision making but the universe doesn't seem to notice. :-D
     
  4. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    I think I hit a real turning point when I internalized the idea that being repelled by a next action should be a trigger to refine it rather than avoid it. If I don't get it right the first time, fixing it is moving forward.

    I like the bicycle analogy, by the way.
     
  5. Jan Ernest

    Jan Ernest Registered

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    So basically what you're saying is that at the end of the thought, or decision-making process - instead of this:

    1. Called (Next Action) Supplier A to request for quote,
    2. Called (Next Action) Supplier B to request for quote,
    3. Reviewed quotes from Supplier A, and Supplier B,
    4. Draft Cost and Benefit Analysis from quotes of Supplier A and Supplier B,
    5. Select Supplier based from Cost and Benefit Analysis

    You would simply stick to this :

    1. Called (Next Action) Supplier A to request for quote,
    2. Called (Next Action) Supplier B to request for quote,
    3. Reviewed quotes from Supplier A, and Supplier B,
    4. Draft Cost and Benefit Analysis from quotes of Supplier A and Supplier B,

    5. Compute for Supplier A and B Rate of Return, ROI
    6. Email request for Discount
    7. etc. etc.


    Note: That items 5, 6, 7, instead of "Selecting Choice" is made to actionable items to streamline decision making, to take out fats in the decision making processing - assisting to make a result (decision)

    8. Draft Purchase Order
    9. Email Purchase Order
     
  6. Jan Ernest

    Jan Ernest Registered

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    If I may supplement as shown by this image. Step 1, 2, 3, 4 are actionable items whilst the deciding itself as shown on item 5 is not. therefore to summarize, steps 1,2,3,4, maybe 6 (engage), and 7 would be your next actions in the project.
     

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  7. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    @Jan Ernest, I don't feel I can provide the definitive guidance you're requesting because in my experience so much of it depends on the situation and the individual. I'm not a purchasing agent, for one thing. And our thought processes might be dissimilar. What works for one person may not work for another.

    All I can say is that in my experience if something in my action lists isn't sufficiently specific -- in other words, it doesn't describe a physical, visible action -- I find myself avoiding it. When that happens, I find it useful to tease out what exactly the next action should be and capture it.

    For me, "select a choice" would be a little too vague. I'd ask myself, "How will I select a choice? Review the quotes? Calculate ROI using my computer? Call someone? Etc." Then I'd capture that action and do it when it's appropriate.

    But what is "sufficiently specific" is entirely subjective. There's no one right way to phrase an action. If you practice GTD diligently, you'll learn over time what works for you.

    And to @mcogilvie's point: it's possible to get too hung up on process, whether it's your GTD process or the process of doing your actual work. I agree with him that often the best decision is to make a decision, and course correct as needed.
     
  8. kelstarrising

    kelstarrising I know some stuff about GTD

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    Decisions about what to do all come down to these two questions:

    What's the value in doing this?
    What's the risk if I don't?
     
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  9. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    Well, yeah. But there's a lot to unpack with those questions. The answers depend on your perception of "value" and "risk."

    As someone who used to be far too risk averse, I like to keep in mind a line from a song: "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice."
     
  10. Jan Ernest

    Jan Ernest Registered

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    @bcmyers2112 so basically what you are saying is that in doing a decision using GTD method. You just plan and come up with physical and visible actions that eventually will help you make a decision. Let these next and visible actions work its way up, and "poof" resulting to either Yes or No. of course, the next actions would need to be objective in order to give you decision quality information.
     
  11. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    Well, it's not always as clean as "poof." Sometimes I need more activity than I initially thought, sometimes less. But yes, that's how I try to do it and mostly it works for me. If it helps you, that's great. If it doesn't, discard my advice and move on.
     
  12. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    Actually, @Jan Ernest, to be clearer: what I'm saying is that concrete next actions work best for me. But I don't feel qualified to advise anyone about how to make the best decisions. I think @mcogilvie is probably correct: no matter how much we try to be objective to some extent it comes down to intuition.
     
  13. Jan Ernest

    Jan Ernest Registered

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    @bcmyers2112 I think in making decision as respect to the advice on GTD - It makes sense that we cannot always make the perfect decision, and what I mean by this and as suggested by @mcogilvie that everything comes down to making the best effort to know all angles before giving into that intuition. In my word, getting that "decision-quality information" would probably what is needed. Therefore, the Physical, and Visible Next Actions are based or geared towards getting that "decision-quality information".
     
  14. treelike

    treelike Registered

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    But how do you know when you've made the best effort to know all the angles? At some point you have to stop researching or the decision will never get made. At some point you have to decide whether to make the decision or not!
     
  15. Jan Ernest

    Jan Ernest Registered

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    Only you @treelike can tell that. Because our decision-making processes maybe different in every ways.

    Agree. You can never really be 100% sure if the decision you make is right, or wrong, but it is better than no decision at all.

    Agree. Nothing in the thread herein specified not making the decision at all. If you feel that specifying "Select Choice" or "Make Decision" (Which I am currently doing right now, and still taking time to understand the concept of GTD with regard to 'making decision' not as a Next Action) is something that will move you, then go ahead, do it. no one is preventing you to do so.
     
  16. treelike

    treelike Registered

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    GTD is a tool to help you make decisions, but it is you that makes the actual decision. In the same way that a hammer is a tool to push in a nail, you still have to swing the hammer. GTD provides a good "environment" for making decisions (clear head, relevant information available at the right time, intuitive understanding of purpose at all levels, awareness of other projects going on, etc) but does not provide an explicit process for performing that decision. How can it? As you point out, different people may have different processes for making decisions.

    When you're specifying "Make Decision", it's more like a Waiting For than a Next Action. You're waiting for yourself to come to some kind of conclusion and the "Next Action" is to chase up yourself "Hey have you decided on that yet?" in the same way you would when you're waiting for someone else to do something.

    A Next Action is something you can do, with no analysis required, when you are in the right context, have enough time and energy available. A decision cannot be a Next Action because it can be performed anywhere and requires virtually no time or energy.
     
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  17. Jan Ernest

    Jan Ernest Registered

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    This was my example above. Could you please validate:

    1. Called (Next Action) Supplier A to request for quote,
    2. Called (Next Action) Supplier B to request for quote,
    3. Reviewed quotes from Supplier A, and Supplier B,
    4. Draft Cost and Benefit Analysis from quotes of Supplier A and Supplier B,
    5. Select Supplier based from Cost and Benefit Analysis

    You would simply stick to this :

    1. Called (Next Action) Supplier A to request for quote,
    2. Called (Next Action) Supplier B to request for quote,
    3. Reviewed quotes from Supplier A, and Supplier B,
    4. Draft Cost and Benefit Analysis from quotes of Supplier A and Supplier B,

    5. Compute for Supplier A and B Rate of Return, ROI
    6. Email request for Discount
    7. etc. etc.

    Note: That items 5, 6, 7, instead of "Selecting Choice" is made to actionable items to streamline decision making, to take out fats in the decision making processing - assisting to make a result (decision)


    8. Draft Purchase Order
    9. Email Purchase Order
     
  18. treelike

    treelike Registered

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    Looks good to me. The real validation is trying it out and watching it work in practise!
     
  19. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    I cannot agree. There are formal decision making methodologies/processes/techniques. Here is the Wikipedia list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decision-making#Individual .
    For example you can create matrix with all the options (columns) and all the factors with their weights (rows) and "calculate" your decision. It is a physical action that perfectly matches the GTD's Next Action definition.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2017
  20. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    Well, no. Decisions often require both thought and (mental/emotional) energy.

    I remember, forever ago, that when my father stopped smoking he also stopped making decisions more important than the smallest everyday ones, because he habitually smoked when pondering and making decisions. Decisionmaking was arguably a context for him--a context that required cigarettes.
     
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