We each make hundreds of
decisions everyday. Some decisions are complex and based on detailed
research, others are gut-feel, intuitive selections. Some are important
with deep ramifications, while others are of little consequence.
Most of your decisions are wrong.
The power law suggests that as many as 80% of them have little impact
on your business, career or other goals. Only 20% of them make a
The trouble is most of us don’t like admitting our
decisions are wrong or inconsequential. There’s a perceived loss of
status in having to admit we’ve changed our minds. Or that we bet on
the wrong horse and things didn’t turn out quite as we foresaw. But
this way of thinking is wrong too. Our minds are not inflexible with
decisions carved in stone. We can change our minds if we want. In fact, changing our mind is one of the easiest things we can do. Changing reality is far harder but will never happen until you change your mind first.
no-one looks down on someone who changes tack. The world is a complex
ecosystem which is inherently chaotic and unknowable. We all have
a mental map which we believe will navigate us through but we must never
forget the map is not the territory. Things will go wrong – it’s how you react which is important.
you realize that most of the decisions you make will be wrong or
irrelevant, then you can adapt the way you make decisions to
compensate. It’s better to make fast decisions than to
procrastinate. The person who makes ten decisions in a day, will have
two correct and meaningful ones. The rest won’t matter. They’ll
out-compete the person who makes just a single decision each day and has
to get a home-run each time.
If you know that many of your decisions are going to be wrong, then the feedback loop becomes more important.
It’s fine to make a wrong call, as long as you discover that quickly,
adjust and change course. In acting on your decision, you get feedback
data which helps you improve your decision-making. Sometimes you’ll ace
it, most of the time you’ll need to correct. The faster you can get the
feedback and adjust, long-term the better your performance will be.
problem for people looking in from the outside is that this can appear
as chaotic, or even inconsistent. Rapid adjustment and flexibility
which is the result of fast feedback and many logical decisions, can be
disorienting for those not involved in the process. It just looks like
wavering. So the third discipline that the power law
of decision making forces upon us is communication. It’s important to explain why things are being changed
when decisions are amended. Share the new data that you discovered and
the implications. This will help the team to follow the journey with
you, rather than being on the receiving end of conflicting directions.
most of your decisions are wrong, then make them faster, find out which
ones aren’t working, adapt and explain why you are changing. Then
you’ll accelerate the speed of the entire team and exponentially
increase your chances of success.