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“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do” – Michael Porter
How do you feel about making choices and decisions? Does decision-making get you stressed out, take up a lot of your time, and have you running around in circles? I hear you!
Business strategy expert Michael Porter‘s quotes is one of my favourites – simply because it is so true. Way back when I was in business school taking consumer behaviour marketing classes, we learned a lot about decision matrices. They work so well.
4 Reasons We Make Decisions Irrationally
1. Sunk Costs
Emotions aren’t rational, right? At times, it’s so difficult to use a strategy to make decisions when you’re emotionally involved. When I get stuck, I find the best way is to turn to an objective third party. Now, if you’re stubborn like I am, it makes it so difficult to ignore your emotions. Well, maybe ignore is a strong word – gently shove them aside to make way for rational decision making.
3. Perception of Others
I see so many people get caught up in what other people think. I’ve always been a non-conformist, and as the “outcast” kind of kid, I learned early on to not care what others think. In fact, books were always my solace. In the literary world, there are so many characters that I looked up to. Strong, independent women who wouldn’t conform.
So, I took my cue from them. When choosing what not to do, don’t worry so much about what others think. Forging your own path is so much more satisfying!
4. Social Bias – What We “Should” Do
How To Choose What “Not” To Do (Strategy)
1 Understand Opportunity Cost
Next, I suggest making a list, or “decision matrix” if you will, of the pros and cons of each decision or route you could take.
- List out all the options
- Make categories of values or attributes that are important to you. For example, if you’re buying a car they may be features of the car. If you’re deciding on a career path, they may be features of working in the field. Assign each attribute a weighting
- Score each option according to each category you’ve created, on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being terrible, 10 being ideal)
- Multiply each score by each weighting (e.g. maybe certain features in a car, like safety rating, have a weighting of 2, while the others have a weighting of 1
- Add up all the points for each option. The one with the best score wins!
3. Define and Understand Your Priorities
This final step goes hand-in-hand with Step #2. If you have decided what you really want, you need to then decide what tasks and events to make priorities. You should make choices that align with your priorities. It sounds simple, but I’ve found it difficult in the past. Which is the more tempting choice? Sometimes the “tempting” choice would be a complete diversion from the one that aligns with your priorities.
I would even write it out, with specific timelines.
For example: For the next 3 months, my main priority is my PhD. I will accept and schedule PhD work events over other events in my life. (That example’s real, in case you couldn’t tell 😉 )
How do you make decisions? What strategies do you use, and what do you choose to do, or not do? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Have a lovely and productive Monday!
P.S. Photography fans, the photo for today’s post (and poster!) is one I took in Plitvice Lakes, Croatia last fall
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