Making complex decisions

Let’s Face it! Problems are Getting More Complex Every Day!

The Skill Needed In Making Complex Decisions Are Due To The Increase Of Important Issues And Problems That Are Much More Complex Each Day. Be Able To Make Sense Of Complex, High-Quality, And Sometimes Contradictory Information To Effectively Solve Problems Takes Skill.

Success Today Depends On Figuring Out The Best Solution To Those Difficult, High-Stakes Issues. Issues That Have Many Moving Parts Is Hard To Make Sense Of It All. Most People Are savvy Enough To Solve Problems Effectively, But They Don't Always Go About It This The Right Way. They Don't Define The Problem Carefully So Therefore They Rush To Conclusions. Or They Go To The Other Extreme And Analyze It To Death Without Trying Anything Out. They May Also Rely Too Much On Themselves With Multiple People Usually Have A Better Chance Of Arriving At The Best Solution. It's Tempting To Skim The Surface Of A Thorny Issue. But Scanning-The-Surface Will Yield Superficial Results At Best And Be Flat Out Wrong. You Need To Drill Down And Gather Data From Multiple Sources, Sort Through It, And Break It Down Into Simpler, Understandable Themes Or Smaller Problems To Solve. Evaluate The Pros And Cons Of Potential Solutions. Test Out The Best Options. Learn And Share Lessons Along The Way. Stay Alert For Future Problems That May Arise.

"The skill needed in making complex decisions are due to the increase of important issues and problems that are much more complex each day"

Your Brain Has Tremendous Capacity To Handle Complex Challenges. But Dealing With Complexity Uses Up More Fuel More Quickly Than Routine Activities. There Is Such A Thing As “Brain Food.” Your Brain Needs Glucose And Oxygen When It Works Hard To Make Sense, Makes Decisions, Commit Things To Memory, And Analyze Tough Problems. Therefore, You May Feel Depleted After Significant Mental Exertion. Give Your Brain Time To Refuel. Plan To Take A Walk, Have A Brain-Healthy Snacks Such As Fruit Or Nuts. Do Your Most Challenging Work When You’re Well Rested. Stay Fresh And Alert For Critical Task By Setting Aside Other Things That May Require Your Attention. The Less, A Complex Problem Must Compete For Brain Resources, The More Likely You Will See Clearly, Be Able To Simplify And See The Way Forward. (Retrieved from

Skilled in Making Complex Decisions

·  Asks The Right Questions To Analyze Situations Accurately.

·  Acquires Data From Multiple And Diverse Sources When Solving Problems.

·  Uncovers Recalls Is To Determine Problems.

·  Evaluates Pros And Cons, Risk And Benefits Of Different Solutions Options.

·  Readily Distinguishes Between What's Relevant And What's Unimportant To Make Sense Of Complex Situations.

·  Looks Beyond The Obvious And Doesn't Stop At The First Answers.

·  Analyzes Multiple And Diverse Sources Of Information To Define Problems Accurately Before Moving To Solutions.

Ten Tips On making complex decisions.

1.    Not sure where to start? Define the problem. You are in good company-Einstein once said that if he had one hour to save the world, he would spend 55 minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution. Experts agree that rigor in problem definition pays often better solutions. Start by defining what the problem is and what it isn’t. Be as clear as possible. Do this by making a quantifiable and visualizing it. This will make it easier break it down. Ask why is it important to solve? How will customers, stakeholders, organization will benefit? Or even better what would be the impact to your stakeholders. Make a goal and/or target or write a desired outcome statement that describes what will be better when the part problem is solved. Keep in mind problem definition may not be once-and-done preposition. Complex issues evolve quickly, so revisit the problem definition over time to be sure you’re still solving the right problem.

2.    Problems to vague? Gather relevant information. First, get organize. What information already exists? What else do you need? Gather data on who, what, when, where and how the problem occurs. Is a sporadic or chronic? Mild or severe? Shine a light on the fog by the differentiating the facts, opinions and guesses. Be willing to search for useful and relevant information. Sift and sort through it to begin visualizing the problem, supplement with surveys, analytics, or field studies. Whenever possible, observe the problem by going and see firsthand what’s happening.

3.    Trouble determining what’s under the surface? Drill down to root causes. A typical error in problem-solving is to mistake a symptom (what shows up) for a cause (the underlying factor that triggered it). Try root cause analysis tools like cause-and effect diagrams to get some clarity. Or the five whys that is prevalent in Lean manufacturing and companies that use six Sigma methods first, describe the problem statement. Toyota uses a process called Toyota business practices for problem-solving. After breaking down the problem describe the problem statement by first asking what, when, where and who. Then ask, why does this occur? Consider the four M’s and one E machine, method, material, man and environment when asking why. Ask why as many times as it takes to get to the root cause. This increases the chance of a more creative solution because you can see more connections. Look for patterns and data, don’t just collect it. Putting categories and makes sense to you and your colleagues.

4.    Having difficulties finding the answer? Ask more questions. Get curious and explore all angles of the challenge. What are the must-have criteria’s that need to be met? What would be nice to have but not essential? What solutions have already been tried and what were the results? What are the forces that perpetuate the problem? Was the ideal timeline for solution be in place? What happened if no action is taken? What resources exist refining, testing, and implementing a solution? What constraints? What stressful scope of the issue? Is the entire process broken or just one part? What is the least likely thing it could be? Was related to it and was not? How we know the solution does or doesn’t work?

5.    Prefer solving it on your own? Consult the other resources. Many try to do too much by themselves. If you think you have a decent solution, ask other people for input just to make sure. One way to ensure that others share information with you is to make it a habit to share yours with them. Tap into experts and novices. Ask experts how they approach new, complex problem. What golden nuggets might work with your current issue?

"One way to deal with complex problems is to break the larger problem into a series of smaller problems to solve enough to make a decision for the path forward"

6.    Stuck in default solution mode? Don’t rush to judgment. When it comes to tackling complex problems, people sometimes moved to the solution at breakneck speed. Others are action-oriented that are fire-ready-aim types. A lot of mistakes could be prevented just by taking more time to think things through. Favoring historical solutions is tempting but risky. Instead of giving new possible options for countermeasures your full attention, you may be looking for corroborating evidence that supports a solution you’ve already decided to take.

7.    Looking for clues? Study successes from principles to apply. It you can find three times the something works, asked why it work despite differences in the situation. What was common to each success, or what was present in each failure but never present in a success? Focus on more learning from the successes-it will yield more information about underlying principles that you can replicate.

8.    Overwhelmed by complexity? Break it down. This is the era of organizational and market uncertainties. What this is the norm, is likely that the problems you face daily are becoming more and more complex. One way to deal with complex problems is to break the larger problem into a series of smaller problems to solve. People who are good at this are incrementalists. They make a series of smaller decisions, get instant feedback, correct the course, get a little more data, then move forward a little more until the bigger problem is under control. They don’t try to get it all right the first time. Going a little at a time means that glitches or unintended consequences will be more manageable.

9.    Overloaded with information? Learn to discern. Information overload is indeed a reality. In fact, the Institution for the Future has names Signal/Noise Management as an imperative leadership skill. Having this skill means you’re able to filter meaningful information, finding the useful parts from the massive streams of data produced and received. When data is effectively categorized it provides a Road-map to multiple best-possible solutions.

10.    Need a new approach? Use more problem-solving tools. There are all kinds of tools and techniques you can use by yourself or in collaboration with others:

·  Depict a complex problem visually. Separate its components and cluster similar aspects. Use flowcharts, mind maps, or sticky notes to show relationship are to see if a different order would help make sense of things.

·  Use a pictorial chart, call a storyboard, where a problem is conveyed in the sequence of events through images and metaphors.

· Try storytelling to illustrate how the problem manifests, how stakeholders think or feel about the current reality, and what their hopes are for the future state.

· Devise worse-case scenarios-going to extreme sometimes suggest is a different solution. Take the current situation and project it into the future to reveal how and where the system may break down.

·  Create an evaluation matrix to assess potential solutions. List the options along the side in rows; across the top and columns put the requirements that must be met.

· Use online collaboration software and apps for productive group member virtual work. Vision boards, ways to organize data, voting tools-they’re all out there. Find what works best for you.

Lastly - Take Time To Reflect

If You Rely On Experiences To Address Challenging New Problems

… Then Realize That What You Already Know One Will Not Always Lead You To Where You Need To Be. Sometimes It Pays To Play The Naive Card.

If You Don’t Know Where To Start With A Complex Issue

… Then Avoid Focusing Too Much On The Unknown. Follow The Facts And See Where They Lead You. Building The Puzzle Piece By Piece Will Help, You See The Whole Picture.

If You Don’t Have The Facts To Reach The Solution

… Then Get Out There And Find Them. Plunge Into A Wide Variety Of Sources. Ask Questions Of The Experts. Draw On Resources You Already Have And Explore Those You Don’t.

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