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Elements of the Decision Chain


Defining Decision Quality - Whether a decision is good or bad depends on how we make it, not on the outcome.

The distinction between a good decision and a good outcome

The distinction between a good decision and good outcome is very important. When we face uncertainty, we can make a good decision and yet get a bad outcome. For example, we can choose to apply for a job we really want but not get it. This does not mean we shouldn't have gone after it. If another appealing job opportunity came again, we would apply again. Similarly, we can make a bad decision and have a good outcome. Suppose we didn't save any money for several years and didn't have any unexpected large payments surface, until the day after receiving an inheritance when a tree fell on our car. We were fortunate: we made a poor decision and got away with it. 

Good decisions do not guarantee good outcomes, but, on average, consistently better decisions lead to consistently better outcomes. 

The Six Elements of Decision Quality

Once we have declared a decision, to be sure that we reach a quality decision, we need to get six elements right. We represent these elements as links in a chain because a decision is only as strong as the weakest link. If each element is strong, the decision is of high quality. If an element is seriously weak, the decision is no better than this element. Each link should be considered from both head and heart perspectives because the decision should make sense and feel right. Every one of the six elements is necessary to reach a quality decision: helpful frame, creative alternatives, useful information, clear values, sound reasoning, and commitment to follow through. Thus, we can use the chain as a checklist in gauging the quality of a decision as we making it. 

I’m making a good decision if I’ve fully satisfied myself of EACH of the following six things:

  • I am clear on the problem that I am solving
  • I have identified what I truly want

  • I have generated a good set of alternatives

  • I have gathered the relevant information needed

  • I have evaluated the alternatives in light of the information to find the one that gets me the most of what I truly want

  • And I am committed to follow through on my choice

For more information about good decision making, download our booklet

Decision Quality: The Fundamentals of Making Good Decisions

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