Decision-Making: The Art of Getting It Right

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Even a cursory look at the worlds of business and politics leads one to the inevitable conclusion: bad decisions are easy to make, and leaders in our society are making more of them. The phenomenon is everywhere, whether it’s Hewlett-Packard writing off billions of dollars on ill-conceived acquisitions, the Obama Administration’s selection of notorious money losers in the so-called “Green Economy” or the fiasco of Project ORCA, the Republicans’ get-out-the-vote operation for 2012, which will go down in election history as a monumental flop.

We deserve better. Business writer Erik Sherman looks at four common mistakes in an intriguing article on

1. Monumentalizing the Trivial
2. Dredging Sunk Costs
3. Drowning in Data
4. Do-or-Die Mentality

Excellent points all, but the last one is particularly compelling. Decision-making is supposed to be a pragmatic process, but often degenerates into the inflexible choice of a hill to die on rather than problem-solving. Sherman notes:

Realize that every decision is temporary. Conditions will change, and you can almost always change your mind and course at a later date. You might lose some time or money in doing so, but better that than racking up the sunk costs and driving into a brick wall from stubbornness.

As decision-makers, we must be willing to always ask the question: “Is this really working?” And if it isn’t, own up to it and change course. Good advice for business, and good advice for politics, especially for a GOP trying to come to terms with its (albeit narrow) 2012 loss.