Recently, I was in a conversation with a builder. We both were making good progress. We negotiated the terms and defining the following steps to put that on paper. Unfortunately, life threw a spanner on me; the builder backed out at a crucial moment. I spent countless hours on this deal, but all seem to go in vain.

Does this type of experience sound familiar?

I have conversations with various leaders and topics like mental well-being/stress numerous times during the discussion. One of the significant factors of stress is decision-making.

We live in an unprecedented complex and ambiguous time; pandemic has certainly shifted the seismic plate of the way we live.

Today, circumstances are compelling us to make some critical decisions.

This article is for those who are contemplating making life-changing decisions.

Deciding should never be a mindless habit every time; it should be a conscious effort to achieve a higher success rate.

Firstly, let us understand the process of deciding. Any critical decision is generally not made on the spot. Instead, it starts with thoughts and broods in mind for several days.

Often, due to a lack of time and energy, many miss putting those thoughts on paper. This behaviour is the first and foremost fundamental mistake.

Never allow thoughts, ideas, insights to brood in your head for too long; not only will you forget the finer details, but it will also lead to mental exhaustion.

Complex circumstances, limited time, and inadequate mental computational power reduce decision maker’s ability to decide. To show how our conscious brains are constrained. Try this experiment. Take a blank sheet of paper and pen, now try multiplying 34*47 in your mind and at the same time, write “My Name is ____________,” you will soon realize that this is not possible to do simultaneously, since our conscious brain can only process one thing at a time. Hence, it is our responsibility to make it easier by writing down all the possible thoughts in a book you are about to decide. This would significantly help you to reduce mental energy burnout.

Reframing Mindset

Never try to achieve a perfect decision; there is nothing called an excellent decision. Instead, strive to come up with an optimal solution or at least an acceptable one. This mindset will help you to think more practically, deter confirmation bias and not get carried away by over-optimism.

Embrace Risk

Risk is an inseparable part of every decision. For most of the everyday choices people make, the risks are small. But on any important decisions, the implications (both upside and downside) can be enormous. This mindset would help you to prepare for the worst possible scenarios. If that happens, you will be mentally stable rather than being over-emotional and fight to move forward.

Decision Paralysis

Another reason is being prone to what I call is “decision-paralysis” — being overly concerned about or too dependent on the opinion of others. This habit may lead an individual being unable to determine how to proceed without any survey of their support network in the hopes of arriving at the optimal choice. It is as though somehow others might be in a better position to know what would be the correct thing to do. Therefore, before reaching out to anyone, make sure that person is qualified to give you the advice and not just because you like the person and feel comfortable with him/her.

Now we have taken care of our mindset, let us get to a simple process to help you arrive at an optimal outcome.

We will learn BRAIND Technique, balancing intuition with Logic.

Medical professionals commonly use this model to help them to make informed decisions about their patients’ outcomes. So how can it help the rest of us in our business or personal lives?

BRAIND helps people to work through problems systematically, using the following acronym:

  • Benefits — What are the benefits of the chosen course of action to you and your stakeholder?
  • Risks — What are the risks involved?
  • Alternatives — Are there any other approaches that you could consider?
  • Intuition or Implications — What is your gut feeling about the situation? Is this course of action the one that you want to take?
  • Need Time or Nothing — Do you need to take more time to evaluate the problem? What happens if you do nothing? Would doing nothing pose less risk than acting?
  • Decisions — Decide the next course of action.

The tool’s simplicity and flexibility mean that it could be adapted to various situations — from organizational, management and team issues to personal dilemmas. The questions you ask would help you evaluate a decision objectively and subjectively by giving you a more rounded perspective. A particular focus is given to “gut instinct” or intuition — a factor that is less likely to be included in more traditional analytical tools, but that could be important as an objective evaluation.

After all, your instinct is a product of your experience, knowledge and expertise, so you must trust what your gut is telling and as well as the raw data. Analyzing the value of doing nothing can also be a potentially helpful counterpoint to other decision-making models, which assume that every challenge must result in some action being taken, irrespective of how effective that action is.

At the same time, the tool’s simplicity means that you can risk over-generalizing a problem. The tool was initially designed to help medical professionals and to help their patients for making decisions quickly. However, the problem you face may require you to more information and in-depth analysis before finalizing it.

Although doing nothing might indeed be the best decision to make in some cases, you need to ensure that it won’t result in delaying a decision or missing out on a valuable opportunity.

Parthi's expertise in Digital Learning in organizations through his 4DS process of Diagnosis, Designing, Develop, Deploy. He is a Certified OB/OD Prof