What are some tools to use for effective decision making? originally appeared on Quora – the knowledge sharing site where questions are answered by people with unique insights. This answer was shared by Charles Duhigg, staff writer for the New York Times and author of Smarter Faster Better, on Quora:

Here is what scientific studies say will help you make better decisions:

Thinking through various, contradictory possibilities, and then trying to force yourself to figure out which ones are more or less likely, and why. (This is known as probabilistic thinking, and studies show that it significantly increases the quality of people’s decision making.)

How to Trick Your Brain into Making Better Decisions (Backed By Scientific Studies) 2 - Florida Independent

Say, for instance, that you are trying to decide whether your group of rebels should attack the Death Star. Seems like an easy decision, right?

After all, the Death Star is filled with jerks, and it has a big glaring weakness (that apparently no architect considered when designing the ship): one well placed shot can blow up the entire thing.

If you are some hillbilly from Tatooine, you’ll charge off into space. You’ll think about this decision in binary terms (“The Empire=bad. The rebels=good. What can go wrong?”)

But, if you are practiced at decision making, you’ll probably do something a bit differently: you’ll sit down with Adm. Ackbar, and you’ll try to envision the dozens of different outcomes that are possible. (“We could get defeated before we make it to the ship. We could make it to the ship and not have enough X-wings.

We could have enough X-wings but then miss the shot. We could make the shot but our intel could be wrong. We could have good intel and make the shot and the Death Star blows up, but our reward is Jar Jar Binks…” You get the point.)

Now, here’s the thing: you aren’t going to be very precise at assigning probabilities to all those possibilities. (“What are the odds that our intel is bad?”) But forcing yourself to think through all the possibilities and then simply TRYING to assign odds will be really helpful in revealing what you do and don’t know.

So, maybe you are pretty certain that your intel is good, and maybe you are pretty certain that, if they can get close to the Death Star, your pilots will hit the target (because, after all, you’ve got the force on your side), but you aren’t particularly certain that you have enough X-wings to make sure that you’ll get close to the Death Star.

Now you know which parts of your plan are weakest, you know what you need to learn more about and what problems you need to solve to increase the odds of success.

Our brains, left to their own devices, prefer to think about choices in binary terms. (And, from an evolutionary standpoint, this is really efficient.)

But to make better decisions, we have to force ourselves to think probabilistically – AND THEN WE NEED TO GET COMFORTABLE WITH THE FACT THAT PROBABILISTIC THINKING TENDS TO REVEAL HOW MUCH WE DON’T KNOW.

It is scary to confront uncertainty. It can make you crazy and anxious. That’s why it is so much easier to look at choices as binary options (“I’ll either succeed or fail”) or deterministic outcomes (“I ended up married to her because she was my soulmate.”)

But if you genuinely want to make better decisions, you have to fight that instinct, and make yourself think about multiple possibilities – both the good and the bad – and be really honest with yourself about what you do and don’t know (and what is knowable and unknowable.)

And then you have to take a leap, and make a decision, and see it as  an experiment that gives you data, rather than a success or failure that you should congratulate yourself on/beat yourself up about.

Because, unfortunately, the force doesn’t really exist. But probabilities do.

0 Shares:
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like
7 of The Best Apps to Train and Boost Your Brain (Put Your Mind to the Test) 6 - Florida Independent
Read More

7 of The Best Apps to Train and Boost Your Brain (Put Your Mind to the Test)

There are hundreds if not thousands of apps out there for boosting your brain. Most of them aim to increase cognitive functioning, helping you improve memory, problem solving skills and processing speed. Others can help you recall words faster or improve your reading comprehension.

Keeping your mind active is as important as any physical exercise and these apps can help you stay fit mentally. If you want to dedicate time to improving your brain’s health, some of these apps can get you started quickly.

1/ Peak

Peak is brain training redesigned for the mobile you. Challenge your cognitive skills and build healthy training habits with fun but stimulating games, goals and workouts.

Peak

2/ Elevate

Elevate is a brain training program designed to improve attention, speaking skills, processing speed, memory, math skills, and more. Members are provided with a personalized game-based training program that adjusts over time based on performance.

3/ Fit Brains

Fit Brains helps you train crucial brain skills such as memory, concentration, problem-solving, processing speed, language, and visual-spatial recognition. Fit Brains feels a lot more like a video game, which may be just what you need to stay motivated and on track.

Fit Brains

4/ Personal Zen

Built by a team of leading neuroscientists and mobile developers, playing Personal Zen retrains your brain to lower stress and anxiety. Just like exercising for physical health, we can exercise our brain for better mental health and wellness!

5/ Happify

How we feel matters. Whether you’re feeling sad, anxious and stressed, or you’re dealing with constant negative thoughts, Happify brings you effective tools and programs to take control of your emotional wellbeing.

Happify

6/ Lumosity

Challenge your Memory, Attention, and more. Lumosity combines 25+ cognitive games into a daily training program that challenges your brain. Games adapt to your unique performances — helping you stay challenged in a wide variety of cognitive tasks.

7/ Headspace

Headspace is a gym membership for the mind. A course of guided meditation, delivered via an app or online. The starter course, Take10, is free. If you enjoy Take10 and want to learn more, you can choose to continue and get access to hundreds of hours of meditations.

Headspace

Let's block ads! (Why?)