The Five Steps to a Good Decision

A good decision is one that advances you towards where you want to be.

Good decision making is a deliberate process of inquiry that advances you towards where you want to be. 

Being clear about your Widget is very important before beginning the Five Steps. 

Step 1: Step Back

Being decisive and making good decisions are not the same thing. 

Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions the situation has aroused in you.

Give yourself permission to be human. Ring a friend and rant. Go for a run. Drink a glass of wine. Be selfish. 

Then return to work ready to focus on the next four steps with the mind of a naïve inquirer. 


Step 2: Define the Issue

What is the issue here?

Despite how the information has been presented to me - as a complaint, a question, some data - what is its significance to the status of my Widget?

Does this information come within my power or do I need to forward it to a person who has the authority? 

Identify the issue. 


Step 3: Assess the Information

What more do I need to find out that will help me to decide what I need to do? 

Who do I need to speak with? What policies or procedures do I need to read? What expert advice should I seek? 

Who else might be affected by my decision and what should I be asking of them? 

Gather and assess information. 


Step 4: Check for Bias

Am I bringing an objective mind to the decision?

Do I have any interest in the result other than in my Widget? 

Is my thinking being affected by any prejudice? 

Am I able to focus on applying expertise, policies and other objective standards to the evidence? 

Is there anything in my conduct that might cause a fair minded observer to question my objectivity? 

Check for bias.


Step 5: Give a Hearing

Is my decision likely to adversely affect the rights or expectations of any other person? 

Is there any other person who would have expected me to consult with them before making this decision? 

Inform any such person of the possibility that you may conclude from your information that you need to make a decision that may adversely affect them and invite them to explain why you should not do so.

Consider their response and weigh it along with all of your other information. 


Make the Decision and Execute It

Accept responsibility for the decision. 

Don't add the weight of your boss, or HR or any other person to the decision when communicating it - It is yours. 


Learn from the Decision

Be open to the information that flows back to you as a result of making the decision.

Incorporate it into growing your understanding of your Widget and the World. 

Use it to make even better decisions.


It is only in our decisions that we are important.

- Jean-Paul Sartre