Conclusion: Indecision can be a business killer

The previous post wrapped up the summary of the books discussed in Investigating Indecision: Why We Can’t Seem to Make Up Our Minds.

In conclusion, the article says that at first glance, these books appear to offer vastly different decision making strategies. However, there are some recurring themes:

  • Intuition is best used by masters, not novices.
  • Algorithms are better at decisions than your brain.
  • Take your time to make a decision (but not too much of it).

Is your organization struggling with indecision? #GetPEOPLE. Focus. Leave the rest to us.

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Indecision can be a business killer, part 5

Finally, we have Wait: The Art and Science of Delay. This book offers a significantly different approach to decision making. Partnoy suggests we wait until the last possible moment.

It sounds simpler than it is. Instead of passively waiting, we should be actively managing delay. Partnoy says to take as long as you can to make up your mind- unless you’re an expert. In that case, trust your intuition. “An expert generally won’t need to delay a decision, but a novice generally should delay, as much as possible.”

Partnoy proposes a simple two-step process:

  • First, find out how much time you have to make the decision. It’s often more than you think.
  • Second, wait as long as possible to make a choice. By giving yourself extra time, you have more opportunity to explore your options and gain valuable insight.

This, of course, doesn’t work so well if …

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Indecision can be a business killer, part 4

Now, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without ThinkingIn direct contrast to the previous books, Malcolm Gladwell dedicates Blink to our brain’s ability to make judgments in the blink of an eye, resulting in delightfully and surprisingly accurate decisions that we struggle to explain. He explains that this is possible when we draw a conclusion based on narrow “slices” of experience.

Gladwell says snap judgments are most accurate when two things are present: experience and expertise. We must train our intuition.

For example, a firefighter who has fought hundreds of fires can make a snap decision to leave a burning building seconds before it collapses because he’s been in similar situations many times before. Without being conscious of it, his brain is instantly detecting a pattern based on previous experiences.

Gladwell acknowledges that while snap judgments can be accurate, they can go horribly wrong, especially when we’re under stress.…

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Indecision can be a business killer, part 3

Next, we have Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work. According to the article, Chip and Dan Heath argue that pros-and-cons lists are irrelevant in decision making, because there are four decision-making biases that pros-and-cons lists don’t address. The four biases are:

  1. Narrow framing. This is the tendency to view one option as your only option.
  2. Confirmation bias. Humans prefer to only gather the information that supports our preferred option, instead of considering the information that negates it..
  3. Short-term emotion. When emotions run high, our judgment becomes clouded.
  4. Overconfidence. Many times, when we make a decision, we do so with too much optimism about how things will play out.

To mitigate these biases, the authors want us to remember one word: WRAP.

  1. Widen your options. Challenge yourself to consider alternatives. You can do this by using two strategies:
    • Consider the opportunity cost. Opportunity cost

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Indecision can be a business killer, part 2

Continuing our discussion from the previous post, the next book is called Thinking, Fast and Slow.

According to the article, in the book Kahneman explains that two systems of the brain are active and at work during our decision-making. The first system is automatic and quick. The second is deliberate and slow.

Sometimes, these systems conflict, explaining some of our most agonizing decisions. The first system might tell you something “feels off”, but the second might remind you that all requirements are met, and the best option has been identified.

This book confirms what was written in Algorithms to Live By. Kahneman argues that it’s better to trust an algorithm than your own gut, and this premise is backed by volumes of research. Thinking, Fast and Slow specifically mentions a study that pitted trained counselors against a statistical algorithm to predict the grades of high school freshmen at the …

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Indecision can be a business killer, part 1

So, I was reading this really great article on the Trello blog about- (ominous music) DA-DA-DAAA…indecision. Indecision can be a business killer. But the article talks about five best selling books that lay out different decision making techniques to help you on your way. You don’t want to remain stuck in the Doldrums, do you? (That’s a reference to The Phantom Tollbooth, which contains a great lesson in time management.)

I’ll discuss each book and technique individually.

First, Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions. Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths say the best way to make a decision is to use math, and that the magic number is 37%.

Mathematical calculations show that you should take 37% of the total options you have, and simply look at them. After that, you should leap, and commit to the first option that is better (

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Algorithms. How do I love thee? Let me map out the ways…


This is an oldie, but I still absolutely love it! Dr. Sheldon Cooper, Ph.D. is--- something else.

Most people believe algorithms only apply to mathematics, but that's not altogether true. Algorithms, according to Merriam-Webster, are defined simply as a set of rules or steps that are followed in order to achieve some specific outcome. Sometimes, if we're lucky, that outcome is a friendship. 🙂

Now, with Merriam-Webster's definition in mind, we can see that algorithms are everywhere, especially in business; doing business implicitly requires adherence to a prescribed set of processes. As you can see from our example, the steps people take, and the order in which those steps are taken can be studied thoroughly in this format.

What do your business processes look like? Are you able to describe them, or even map them out? If you are having trouble achieving your specific outcome, maybe this is something you

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A superb time management lesson is included in a children’s book. Have you read it?

So, I absolutely ADORE The Phantom Tollbooth. The book was written by Norton Juster, and published in 1961. One of the best children’s books ever written, in my opinion.

It tells the story of a boy named Milo, who is very bored. One afternoon, he unexpectedly receives a magic tollbooth and, having nothing better to do, drives through it in his toy car. He’s instantly transported to the Kingdom of Wisdom, which was once prosperous but is now troubled. There, he makes two friends and sets out on an adventure to restore its exiles princesses, Rhyme and Reason, from the Castle in the Air. Through his adventure, Milo learns valuable lessons and finds a love of learning. The text is full of puns and wordplay, such as when Milo unintentionally jumps to Conclusions, an island in Wisdom, thereby exploring the literal meanings of idioms.

In Chapter Two, Milo is …

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