Appreciating that we each bring existing assumptions and beliefs to every conversation, addressing these 6 questions individually or as a team will help approach decision-making with a more empathetic, open and inclusive mindset to develop more thoughtful decisions that lead to more strategic and impactful outcomes.
Lay the foundation for positive discussions and productive outcomes by asking:
- What is the root cause of the issue? Ensure you are addressing the underlying/continual concerns versus superficial/momentary concerns. Play the 5 Why’s game to uncover the root cause.
- What are the criteria for making a decision? Be clear up front so rules are transparent and not adapted along the way to unintentionally be biased for or against one idea or approach. Decision-making criteria should include alignment with company values, DEI objectives and strategic goals to ensure outcomes reflect what is in the best interest of the organization versus personal beliefs or preferences.
- How can I minimize the influence of confirmation bias (the tendency to look for and interpret information that is consistent with one’s existing beliefs) in order to broaden my view? Take a moment to write down what you want the outcome to be or what you think the answer is. Use this process to acknowledge the biases we each have going into a discussion. During discussion, challenge yourself to seek first to understand, then to be understood by empathetically listening to others first before making the case for your points. Use Tips to Bust Your Biases for other ideas.
- How can I bring more perspectives into the conversation and balance multiple viewpoints? Embrace a “both/and” mindset. Too often we are conditioned to think there is one right way (our way). The truth is, no one has a monopoly the truth and accepting that can help take the edge off the resistance you likely feel when your beliefs are challenged. And keep in mind that the best decisions are not binary. Frame possible solutions as “both/and” to avoid getting stuck with overly simplistic either/or, good/bad, right/wrong, yes/no outcomes.
- Who else should be consulted? Remember, you will always make a better decision with broad and diverse input. Before coming to a final conclusion, pause and consult with at least one new person or alternative information source before pulling the trigger.
- What can go can go right? We tend to have a negatively bias – over emphasize what can go wrong versus what can go right. Reality is likely somewhere in between, so plan for the likely versus the extremes by also considering what can go right with the decision.
Finally, prepare to communicate the decision in a transparent way by thinking through and sharing:
- The rationale for the decision, including alignment with organizational goals.
- Decision-making criteria and process steps.
- Who/which perspectives were involved.
- Educational or background information to support learning and understanding about the issue.
- Where individuals can go if they have questions, want to discuss or share feedback.
- When and how will we evaluate the impact of our decision and reflect on learnings to inform modifications or next steps?