Throughout 2022, you have made about 12,775,000 different decisions.
78,996 of these decisions were about food alone.
Some were big, one-off decisions, that changed your life in a significant way and others were smaller, day-to-day decisions, that didn’t seem like much at the time but have then compounded into significant outcomes as the end of the year approached.
With such a high number of decisions being made, imagine what a small 5-10% improvement in your decision-making abilities could do! Imagine where you’d be finishing the year at!
That’s one of the best things about improving your ability to make decisions, it pays compounding dividends for the rest of your life.
The best way to make better decisions is to become better at logic and critical thinking, because it improves your ability to think things through, and helps to avoid the regretful hindsight moments you have after making a bad decision – those moments you go “I wish I thought about that beforehand!”
Thinking as a team
Where I find logic and critical thinking most important is when multiple people are involved, such as making decisions as a team.
This is because when making decisions as a team, you have to communicate with others, and using logic and critical thinking helps you clarify what you mean, as well as helps you seek clarification from others, without misunderstanding them.
Want to play “Communication Roulette”?
Now, there is nothing worse in business than misunderstanding. To get a real feel for how bad misunderstanding is, I want you to imagine playing “communication roulette”.
In this game, no one in your team is allowed to communicate with each other for the next 3 months.
Everyone can only guess at what others might be thinking, and perform tasks and communicate with customers and suppliers based on those assumptions.
No team meetings, no conversations at the desk, no emails, no calls, nothing.
This “communication roulette” sounds insane and yet every time people in a team misunderstand one another, it’s no different to playing a round of this “communication roulette”.
So, let’s see how you can use logic and critical thinking in the context of a team environment, so that you can communicate with each other clearly, and make better decisions, without accidently getting yourself into a game of “communication-roulette”.
The three building blocks of outcome driven communication
When we are working as part of a team we are mostly engaged in outcome driven communication (i.e., sharing information, solving problems, building plans) as opposed to rapport building communication (i.e., socialising, banter, getting to know people), there are actually only three categories that the communication falls into:
Cause and Effect
This is where we discuss the negative or positive effects of different ideas and actions. For example:
“We have a lot of work on at the moment, and it would really help us to get someone else on board. I’m thinking we should hire someone so we can offload some of our work and free up time to get started on these other jobs”
All this is really saying is “IF we hire someone THEN we can get more work done”.
It is important to note these fundamental causal connections within the conversation, because they will most likely have errors in judgment and/or logical inconsistencies- which of course we want to know about. So, in the above example, hiring a new team member could actually slow the entire team down as they need to be onboarded, possibly trained up, may be prone to make mistakes that will need to be fixed, etc…
The problem is it’s very hard to spot any errors in judgment or logical inconsistencies in an unstructured conversation. So, you really want to break down what people are saying into these IF-THEN causal connections, making it easier to evaluate actions before a decision is made.
The next time you, or someone else, is talking about one thing causing another, try to write out the simple underlying IF-THEN statement, and start with that. It will help you think in a clearer way, help everyone understand the logic, and help see whether the idea will actually cause the desired results.
This is where we discuss the prerequisites or sequence in which we believe things must happen.
“I was going to send my work in for review, but it’s not finished yet, so once I finish the work I will send that through to you.”
All they are really saying here is “IN ORDER TO have my work reviewed, I MUST have the work completed.”
When we word our necessity statements like this, we can think about whether to accept them as true, or whether they can be challenged and decoupled.
Much like the IF-THEN connections, when you or others are talking in necessity, try to identify the fundamental IN ORDER TO – I MUST connections. You will see true prerequisites clearer, as well as identify opportunities to decouple or eliminate certain steps. So, in our example, maybe work could be split into sections and sent to the reviewer as each of the sections is completed, as opposed to having to complete the entire piece.
Outside of the words we say, are the words we DON’T say. And what we don’t say is just as important, if not more important, than what we do say. We call these unsaid thoughts ‘assumptions’.
Let’s look at the previous cause and effect example…
“IF we hire someone THEN we can get more work done.”
If the person you are hiring requires a lot of time to train and become competent in the role, or requires supervision, or their work needs to be reviewed, then perhaps you’re creating more work for your existing staff, not less; You could make the problem worse.
On the other hand, if minimal training is required, or the job is quite straightforward and they can be trained quickly, then perhaps this will solve the problem of having too much work.
So we can add that assumption into our statement, to read “IF we hire someone, AND they are not a burden on existing staff, THEN we can get more work done”.
You can then see if that’s true or false in your exact context, to understand whether this is a good idea or not, and make a better decision.
So there you have it, how to use logic and critical thinking in teams to make better decisions.
Now, it’s a start of a new year and you have about 12,180,000 decisions to make before the year ends.
Surely, at least one of those decisions should be to get started on our Foundations course, so that you can start off 2023 making better decisions, and receive those compounding dividends for the rest of your life.”