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How to be a decision maker

Updated: Nov 13, 2020

I just reread a book by Annie Duke and I thought I'd share some parts of.

Duke suggests you use Robert Merton's method. It forms an excellent guide for anyone seeking to be a decision-maker. It comprises four elements: 

  1. “Get all the information available.” Without all the facts, accuracy suffers. 

  2. “Don’t shoot the messenger.” If you want to improve the accuracy of your beliefs, you’ll be better off if you include people and information sources you are likely to disagree with. 

  3. “We all have a conflict of interest, and it’s contagious.” Our brains have built-in conflicts of interest, interpreting the world around us to conform to our beliefs, “to avoid having to admit ignorance or error.” 

  4. Cultivate “organized skepticism.” A productive decision group would do well to organize around skepticism because true skepticism isn’t confrontational. If you don’t lean over backward to figure out where you could be wrong, you are going to make some pretty bad decisions. 

Another important discussion in Duke's work is a technique to avoid making important decisions based on short-term emotions. Duke cites the “rule of 10-10-10,” developed by Suzy Welch, a business journalist and author. Very simply put, when faced with conflicting choices, analyze the outcomes of each alternative 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years from now. 

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