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Decision-Making: Remember "Z"

Posted Sep 22 2008 10:27am

Everyday we make more decisions than we realize. Some are as simple as whether to super-size that burger and where to sit down to eat it; others involve choices that impact family, health, and finances.

Decision making can be tough enough when you do it solo. It becomes even more challenging sitting around the conference table with colleagues. When it comes to information, we each prefer to approach it from different starting points using our favorite questions. So the trick becomes to bring everyone together at the same starting point, then systematically move together until you've explored all of the important elements of sound decision-making.

Decision by Zorro

Zorro Some of you may recall the TV/movie character Zorro. His trademark was carving a "Z" with his sword as a reminder to his foes that he was alive and well, and ready for action.

Last week I drew this model on a flip chart during a decision-making meeting with a group of managers. If you follow the quadrants in sequence--just remember "Z"--you'll focus participants on the same elements of the decision process at the same time.

1. First, walk through the factual details about what you know, what you don't know, and any other verifiable bits of information.

2, Then, take a big picture approach to think long term, see opportunities, possibilities, and connections between cause and effect.

3. When you've handled the information, use objective thinking to logically deal with risk/benefit. What are the pros and cons? Are there other options that haven't been discussed? Does each option carry a consequence of some sort? How likely is it that it would happen? If it did, what would the seriousness be?

4. Finally, take the "people factor" into consideration.  How will this affect others in the work group? Where else in the organization would people be impacted?  How will you feel about the result? Will it gain support or meet stiff opposition?



I've received a number of emails and comments from young managers who are looking for tips and hints to help boost their effectiveness. This is the kind of model that can help create focus and reduce conflict.

Note: For those of you who are intimately familiar with the MBTI®, this may prove useful:


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