Throughout my life, I have trusted my intuition as my most important decision making skill. When something does or doesn’t feel right in the pit of my stomach I pay attention. And I have been pretty successful following those instincts.
But a conversation with Dr. Gleb Tsipursky left me wondering if using my intuition and my “gut” was the best possible decision making approach for my business. Instead of leaping into action, he suggested that business owners pause and ask themselves five simple questions to verify if their gut is leading them in the right direction.
- What important information have I not yet fully considered? Let’s face it, we often look for information which confirms our opinions and ignore or minimize information which contradicts our ideas. Taking the time to deliberately seek out information which presents contrary opinions or direction will help you decide if you really have chosen the best course of action.
- What dangerous judgement errors did I not yet address? Some of the most common are described in this article in Inc. Magazine. The list includes sunk cost bias, survivor ship bias, and the halo effect. Each of these judgement errors are hard wired into our psyche and it takes effort to recognize when they are in play and clouding our judgment and decision making skills.
- What would a trusted and objective adviser suggest I do? Dr. Tsipursky told me it is great if you have the time to pick up the phone and talk directly to your advisor, but if you don’t, just imagining what they would say is often enough. My husband is a great counter-balance for me. He is smart, practical, and very good at looking at all the details. Just thinking about where he would see a red flag is enough to keep me out of trouble.
- How have I addressed all the ways this decision could fail? This is a tough one for entrepreneurs. We tend to be optimists, believing things will work out, but looking for the flaws isn’t negative, it is a proactive preventative planning element that will actually increase the chances of success.
- What new information will cause me to change my mind? It is really difficult to change your mind once you have started down a path (sunk cost bias). Deciding on the front end when you will pull the plug on a program makes it easier to let go, but also gives you a target. For example, launching a new program and agreeing to kill it if you haven’t enrolled 50 people by a certain date helps you build a plan to hit that target.
The next time your gut is telling you something is a good or bad idea, it may be right and it may wrong. Answering these questions doesn’t really take that long but this decision making process can give you more insights, more information, and possibly more attractive alternatives. The slight pause won’t delay your ability to move forward, but it will prevent you from moving forward in the wrong direction.
Interested in learning more? Listen to the rest of the conversation now.