How To Effectively Select The Most Prudent Decisions

Professional decision-making differs from everyday “impromptu” decision-making. Whereas the professional has ample time to consult, delegate and refer so as to guard against the possibility of something having been initially overlooked or forgotten, the everyday non-professional does not. We gotta’ do what best we can with what we got! And we gotta’ do it quick … on the spot! Everyday decision-making requires us to utilize our assumptions and perceptions, apply them to the immediate world surrounding us, and then watch to see how matters turn out. We adult humans have a powerful little mass resting atop each our shoulders in that we usually get things right … but still other times, unfortunately, we mess up and learn like children all over again!
These next several pages address both types of decision-making. Included is a convenient outline of the decision-making process to help decision-makers avoid the possibility of something inadvertently becoming overlooked. The outline begins on page 5.
A.  Constraints
At the outset, any constraints imposed upon our decision-making may inevitably affect the quality of those final decisions. That is, our conclusions may not be as robustly prepared as we may like if too many problems limit our ability at recognizing ALL possibilities relevant to our problem’s resolution within a given time frame. See Avoiding error: Recognizing Hidden Variables for a thorough list.
1.  Prior preparation and abilities
Impromptu decision-making revolves about what immediately comes to mind. It relies on the validity/accuracy of our prior perceptions and rests solely on the guidance offered by limited memories. We humans prefer to lazily assume validity to all our assumptions and preconceptions without making any effort to “make sure.” We prefer to pre-conceptualize on the spot for each decision we face, because after all daily life won’t allow anything less. We certainly don’t have the time to ponder over each and e-v-e-r-y decision e-v-e-r-y-d-a-y. We all make these “perceptual” decisions on a daily basis — and lots of them! …little “perceptual points” throughout the day you may say — rather than consistently CARING about a host of complicated CAUSES and/or CONSEQUENCES for each and e-v-e-r-y decision.
The problem here, of course, is that if we never experienced it or heard about it or in any way imagined it before, we’ll likely not expect it tomorrow. All our planning today for what may confront us tomorrow is ultimately linked to our prior experiences. Prior preparation — whether trained, disciplined, self-taught or learned ad hoc — ultimately determines most accurately how effectively we may confront and navigate through a novel scenario … without error. “Blind confidence” tends to lead nowhere. Prior preparation provides the ultimate guarantee for subsequent success … every time. So, if ya’ wanna’ avoid any potential for subsequent err, ya’ gotta’ find somebody who knows how to do the job … and do it right the first time! Knowledge may be Power, but Competence provides the keys to turn the ignition! And the most competent is always the least likely to err.
2.  Time for finding robust solutions
Where we may be unprepared, we may be able to consult another who is. But then our resources may be limited and we might be unable to consult a competent authority. If such is the case, we must then resort to intense brainstorming so as to imagine what we may be overlooking. Prior preparation usually leads to immediate solutions, assuming we have sufficient time to carry everything through. Brainstorming where we aren’t so adequately prepared in advance, may lead to a solution if we have enough time to imagine, think about and plan for e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. Apparently, time limits all, especially when there is no one else to help us imagine ALL.
a.  Split-second deciding – instincts and immediate memories
It is our instincts and immediate memories that keep us alive, and have kept us alive for millennia, by providing us with quick reflexes and responses for avoiding impending doom. Prior preparation, when it includes repetitive exposure to similar stimuli, can lead to quick response times, but unfortunately for us humans none of us ever experiences ALL beforehand so that we may be totally prepared for any subsequent split-second decision.
b.  Some time available- Star of Sensibilities
The following concepts are the six (6) most important considerations for any non-trivial decision. (What’s a trivial decision? It’s a decision of no meaningful consequence. Which eye to close first before falling asleep? Or close them both at the same time? Should that single eyelash at the very leftmost side of your face be pointed inward or outward? And so forth! Keep in mind, however, that given the appropriate circumstances, every trivial decision may potentially become a non-trivial one!) See Star of Sensibilities for a pictorial of this mnemonic and further discussion.
• Superior Knowledge (Competence): find those who have superior know-how.
• Avoid Self-centeredness: think about how the decision may affect others.
• Safety: avoid accidents before they happen!
• Security: prevent the devious from destroying your planning.
• Sensitivity: prevent any potential for unnecessary suffering/sadness.
• Simultaneity: planning simultaneously rather than sequentially, when possible, can save time and sometimes actually lead to better solutions!
c.  More time for deciding- Pyramid, Cube, P-I-G
More time means more considerations to make and greater preparation for subsequent possibility. The above and following mnemonics should effectively guide your attentive focus in the most appropriate directions.
Pyramid of Precautions: prioritizing, prevention, preparation for possibility, protection and avoiding personality projection. See Pyramid of Precautions for a pictorial of this mnemonic and further discussion.
Cube of Considerations: causes, consequences, concern, care, caution, contradict, compare/contrast, crunch and avoiding overconfidence. See Cube of Considerations for a pictorial of this mnemonic and further discussion.
P-I-G (Don’t be a PIG!): avoid pillaging your losses, inattentiveness/inactivity, grabbing for gain. See P-I-G for a further discussion of this mnemonic.
d.  Ample time – I-C-E, CRUNCH and others
The preceding mnemonics can help us to remember where to quickly focus our attention when time may be short. Once we know where to look first, we can get to work quickly without wasting excess time, effort or resources. What follows are those considerations that may require much more time to analyze completely. Some of the following information may be remembered with some clever mnemonics that you may find helpful, while the rest can only be presented or merely contemplated.
I-C-E (or C-I-A): Imagine possibilities! Contradict your conclusions! Expose your assumptions! See I-C-E for a further discussion of this mnemonic.
CRUNCH! (CC9RONYCHH) criticize, C9, RONYC, how and help. See CRUNCH! for a further discussion of this mnemonic.
Others: See Simpleminded error for more mnemonics and a further discussion. We humans could never become consistently 100% certain in all our decision-making. Always must we allow for the possibility that there just might be something which we are overlooking. After all, we humans wouldn’t still be progressing technologically in this 3rd millennium A.D. if everything were already known to us! So, keep searching; keep learning; consult more; verify more. Because you’re only human, on the very first try, you’re likely-gonna’ overluuk sometin’!
3.  Resources for finding robust solutions
Where we may not have the time, we may have the resources … or vice versa. Any constraints imposed upon our decision-making — say in our abilities, prior preparation or time to get things done — may be mitigated if we have ample resources to throw about. Two heads are better than one! Where one mind may overlook, the other might recognize and expose. But then where one mind may readily recognize, the other might improve upon and perfect. Access to ample resources is usually what sets the professional apart from the non-professional. Though at times a dedicated and hard-working non-professional may amaze even the most prepared professional who maybe had not contemplated the possibility for such a massive individual pornos effort.
In decision-making, “resources” typically refers to the following:
access to information andan army of dedicated and competent workers.  Quite obviously, having ample resources is meaningless if we haven’t the means for managing it properly, and decision-making is no exception to this rule. Having ample information is meaningless if we haven’t the means to adequately analyze it. Likewise, having ample human resources is meaningless if we consult inappropriately or direct our specialists to work on frivolous assignments. The prospect of avoiding errors in decision-making, even group decision-making, is beset by potential problems that must be effectively managed and navigated around if we endeavor ever to find a final robust solution. The bulk of these problems you may find discussed within this web site, at Avoiding errors.
4.  Open-mindedness/creativity to recognize misperceptions
See Avoiding error: Problems with human decision-making.
If the effectiveness of decision-making rested solely on preparation, time and resources, we wouldn’t have much to worry over: We could then just leave all our decision-making to an army of specialists hired collectively by society. Unfortunately, matters aren’t so simple. Even groups as large as several hundred still make mistakes! Predominately, this problem rests in our human tendency to assume, and no matter how many of us you assemble if we’re all assuming in the same way you’ll likely get a final decision with the common assumption(s) built in!
This is groupthink, and we decision-makers loathe it. If we could all just learn to keep our minds open to possibilities never hitherto encountered or even considered, if we would just take the time to imagine and consider the possibility of some rare exception having been overlooked and unprepared for rather than automatically limiting our thinking to what had always been practiced or experienced before we might get by a little bit better. We might not have to learn by trial-and-error, by accidents-waiting-to-happen or lawsuits-waiting-to-be-levied. But we’re human; we’re lazy; and we prefer to learn the old fashioned way; that is, just sit, watch, and see what happens….