Friday, August 25, 2006

Do not try to take 'right' decision

I often receive calls from individuals who are planning to take another job. When I ask them why they have called me, they often reply that they ‘want to take right decision’. When I ask them ‘how will you know if we have taken right decision’, they understand the fallacy of taking ‘right decision’.

One of my management classmate went on to take the best paying job in a multinational bank, got stuck for 5 years, changed the job later to another bank and so on. On the other hand, I took a job in a private company changed three jobs in 5 years. When we met after five years we wondered loudly whether we took the right decision. He felt I had taken the right decision because I had grown in the three jobs and found what I liked. I however felt that he had taken the right decision because he had earned enough money to buy a flat and had therefore become more independent than me. Who is right?

What is a right decision? Do the ‘subsequent outcomes’ determine what is the right decision? For instance, if my friend was stuck further in a job for another five years, would I have said that he had taken a ‘wrong’ decision? And if outcomes determine the ‘rightness’ of the decision, how can one predict outcomes while taking a decision?

Or do the objectives determine whether the decision is right or not? For instance, if my objective was ‘growth’ and my friend’s objective was ‘money’, shall we conclude that we have taken right decision? But objective-achievement cannot be ‘digital’ (1 or 0), it is always intermediate. For instance, my friend could not have grown at all in five years. How does one determine whether that growth is enough or not? How does one determine whether that ‘degree of achievement’ is enough to constitute ‘success’?

If outcomes cannot be predicted and objective-achievement is subjective, how does one take the ‘right’ decision?

We have found that there are five characteristics of an ‘appropriate decision’. One is the self-information one has about oneself while taking a decision, second is a process of sequential logic to take a decision; third is the quality of ‘data’ available/used while taking a decision, fourth is the ‘what-if’ scenario used to maximize returns from a chosen path, and fifth is the awareness of ‘emotional bias’ involved in the decision.

We shall discuss each of the characteristics as we go along. In this page, we shall discuss the first one.

If one has enough self-information available about oneself, then many decisions get taken instantaneously. With self-information, our objectives are determined and that helps us take better decisions. On the other hand, self information can also be misguiding if it is based on wishful thinking and past conditioning. For instance, because my father is a doctor, I have more information about medicine because of which I tend to chose medicine course ‘unknowingly’.

This kind of self information can be misguiding. Like the example of Jessica given in the Po Bronson’s book What should I do with my life. After becoming MD, due to her father’s background of medicine, she found that medicine is not for her because she could not keep ‘distant’ from the patients. She could not have gained this self-information until she 'engaged' with medicine. The paradox of self-information is that we gain self-information only after we 'engage' with the outside world. And if we have to take decision before we engage with the world, how does one get enough self information? This is chicken-egg phenonomenon.

Therefore many a times, when we are taking decision, we are not aware of what we want, what we are, what are our strengths. Many a times, as I engage with the person in taking a decision, we discover many such ‘self-information’ tidbits while we are thinking hard. It is futile to demand that ‘one should know what one wants’. It is not practical.

Do you have any incidents or events to share on how you gained self-information in your life?

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michelkline3342738552 said...
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