When we’re working in a different environment, our previous experience and intuition can make decision-making harder as our brain tends to default to making decisions on autopilot (System One). By considering the effect rather than focusing on actions and identifying our underlying assumptions and beliefs about the way things have to be done, we can think outside of the box to make better decisions in a new working environment.

But, making good decisions doesn’t end with decisions for ourselves. We can use the techniques from the last two articles to make better win-win decisions when working with others and to make more valuable and industry-changing decisions when creating solutions for others (such as your users and customers).

There are two key situations you can use these techniques with others:

  • When you are making a decision with someone else, or a group of others

An example of this situation is when you’re making a decision with others, where there needs to be agreement on the decision by everyone involved, but there is an argument over what the decision should be. It might be an amicable argument where you’re discussing it to move forward or it might be a not-so-friendly argument where both sides of the argument are steadfast and don’t want to back down.

  • When you are making a decision for someone else, or a group of others

An example of this situation is when your product user base is requesting certain features or customization. Rather than just giving the users what they are requesting, you may identify that this is an opportunity to identify more valuable functionality (that users have never thought of).

Deciding with Others: Making a Decision with Others

In most cases, the best technique to start with is Consider the Effect: Look at the effects of your proposed action(s) and look at the effects of the other party’s action(s).

In ninety percent of cases, arguments that stall do so because people are attached to:

  • the actions, or mechanisms;
  • how it’s been done before; or
  • how it ‘should’ be done now.

When an argument stalls, you’ll probably find the discussion is going backwards and forwards, a bit like conversation tennis, “We should do this,” vs. “We should do that.”

Example: “We should add more functionality” or “We should make the functionality we have run more smoothly, or have better UX.”

Using the Consider the Effect technique with others uses the same process as when you are using it yourself, but instead of looking at the purpose of the two actions you are deciding between, you are looking at the purpose of your action and the purpose of their action.

What you’re trying to do here is draw the discussion away from being an argument over actions, and into a discussion about, “How do we get both of our effects?”

Focusing on the effects gets you both on the same side of the table, rather than on opposite sides.

Deciding for Others: Making a Decision on Behalf of Others

In most cases, this is going to be if your product team are looking at building a new feature, or functionality. Obviously, you want to include your customers or users as much as you can, but we often find users often don’t know what’s truly possible, what’s easy to use, what’s hard to use, etc.

Example: The end-user says, “I need an email that automatically goes out to customers when I push a button. I need it to be customised, so I need these templates to be in the software.”

Here we can use the technique Consider the Effect to ask the user, or listen to the user, to find out what they actually want in terms of effect or outcome. What is it that they need to solve with this functionality? It could be that the user wants to add a personalised message to the email being sent out so that it doesn’t feel like the email is being sent out of a system.

Next, we can use the technique Identifying the Assumptions and Beliefs to look at why the user believes they need this functionality to be able to get that outcome. You might not even need to challenge those assumptions; it might just be obvious or easy to solve.

Or they might be assumptions that the whole industry holds and so challenging those is a lot harder – BUT, this is where the breakthrough solutions are!

Decision-Making and Breakthrough Solutions

If you look at any product that’s come out and really changed the market it is because they have challenged the assumptions of the status quo.

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” – Henry Ford

This is how Apple changed the way the world deals with computers with the iPad and the iPhone. They challenged the status quo; the assumptions and beliefs about how people should be using computers, and how they wanted to be using computers.

Key question: Why do we believe that it has to be this way, and what would it look like if it didn’t have to be this way?

Summary

So, these are the main ways that we can use the decision-making techniques when we’re working with others. You can start practising these techniques internally among your team, and then look at how you could incorporate them into decisions your team makes on behalf of users. Reach out if you’d like to talk a decision through using some of these techniques, or would like help applying these techniques in your business.

Want to hear more about this, and other decision making tools?

Over the next three articles in our Working from Home series, we’ll explain how you can use these three techniques to make better decisions in a bit more depth. Using these techniques, you will be able to make better, clearer decisions in this different environment that you’re in now, and also in any environment that you’re in in the future.

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