How to Become an Expert at Decision-Making

Not a day goes by in our lives that we are not confronted with the precious opportunity to make a decision. Throughout the whole of our existence we will be bombarded a countless amount of times with the chance to chose, but since our decisions are what make us who we are today, we cannot help but think, are we making the right ones?

There are hundreds of questions that arise when making a decision that one way or another are resolved as it is taken. The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance, has found a way to summarize all of them into the "Ten Cardinal Decision Issues". When you know what is the thinking process you go through when making a decision, it is easier not to get caught up in the middle of it, without a clue. Here, I share with you what these Cardinal Issues are:
  1. Need: "Why are we (not) deciding anything at all?"
  2. Mode: "Who (or what) will make this decision, and how will we approach the task?"
  3. Investment: "What kinds and amounts of resources will be invested in the process of making the decision?"
  4. Options: "What are different actions we could potentially take to deal with this problem we have?"
  5. Possibilities: "What are the various things that could potentially happen if we took that action?"
  6. Judgment: "Which of the things that we care about actually would happen if we took that action?"
  7. Value: "How much would we really care - positively or negatively - if that in fact happened?"
  8. Tradeoffs: "All of our prospective actions have both strengths and weaknesses. So how should we make the tradeoffs that are required to settle on the action we will actually pursue?
  9. Acceptability: "How can we get them to agree to this decision and this decision procedure?"
  10. Implementation: "That's what we decided to do. Now, how can we get it done, or can we get it done after all?"
Next time you come across a tough decision in your life, go through these ten points and ask yourself each question, they will surely simplify the process of taking such a decision. Use the method as much as possible and with time you will see that you will not have to go back and look at the questions. Instead they will become a part of your automatic decision-making modus operandi.  

Throughout the best business schools in the world, one way they teach their students to become great at making decisions is by presenting them with real life situations that require decisions. Since these case methods are based on true life experiences, the outcomes are already known, therefore they can be judged accurately on the quality of their decisions. Imagine they did these exercises 10 to 20 times a week, after getting their degree, they will surely become the sharp decision-makers they are required to be. As we have expressed before in, How to Become an Expert at Anything, deliberate practice plays one of the key roles in becoming an expert and in this case, it is nicely exposed through this example. 

Feel free to share your ideas on this topic.
Pictures via GoodFoot42 and Anelgim.
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