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JEFFREY TOBIN: Care less decisions

by on December 08, 2013 1:50 AM

I like decision-making, especially for my businesses. I enjoy the thinking processes of research and discussion, of pitting pros against cons. There’s something about the risk that is compelling to me as well. Not everyone feels that way, and some decisions are harder than others, especially those which have multiple options.

“Paper or plastic?” That’s an easy one. But if I were to interject additional choices such as multi-use recycled carrying bags, cloth mesh, or even no bag at all, you’d have five options to weigh. I’d bet those waiting in line behind you would trump your concerns of your decision’s environmental impact. “Um … OK … um … plastic! Oh, whatever.”

In business, these kinds of complex decisions are rife. My goal: To make your decisions as easy as pie (as if making a pie was really easy in the first place.)

Let’s define a complex decision as one which has numerous possibilities, with the goal of selecting the singularly best possible outcome. I’ve created a tool I call “The Analytics Grid™” I use with my clients, but will give you a simplified version in the form of a basic decision matrix …

… but with twist.

When our daughter Jordan considered her college education, she examined no fewer than eight colleges and universities. She was 17 years old and had little clarity about her future or future occupation possibilities. She seemed befuddled. Who wouldn’t be?

So we made a simple chart. I asked her to list all of her school options in a column on the far left of a tablet. Across the top, we listed all of the positive aspects of importance to her in her “dream” college. She listed nine. A key here was for her to state them in a positive form. This is important. Rather than listing “good food,” I asked her to write, “I really like the food.” Instead of “nice campus,” she listed, “the campus was beautiful.” This made the next step more meaningful.

She carefully scored each school — on a scale of one to 10 — on all of their positive aspects. She then added across the rows and totaled their scores. The results not only identified her top schools, but more importantly, they thinned the field down from eight to two. Her stress level dropped immediately.

This made her choice infinitely more simple. But here’s the twist: Jordan ended up selecting a school that was not the highest on her list! So was the exercise of any value? Absolutely. The greatest value to her would always be the knowledge that she came to her decision after having carefully weighed all of the options. No “Monday morning quarterbacking.” Ever.

When you are faced with complex decisions, consider this decision matrix format. You’ll be amazed at the peace of mind it will have given you. Your decision-making wasn’t careless. Because you didn’t care less.

Jeffrey Tobin, an international speaker and business coach. He is also the owner of Henry Hall Office Products in Indiana and hosts the website His professional advocacy columns appear Sundays in the Business section of The Indiana Gazette and the Community News page on The Indiana Gazette Online.
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