Every day, there are a barrage of choices that we all have to make. Some of them are easy: what should I eat for breakfast? The heart-healthy oatmeal or the syrup-laden waffles? And some of them are more difficult: what can we do to shave an extra 3 percent off of our manufacturing costs?
What if there was an easy, dispassionate way to make all of your decisions easy ones? Our friends at Freakonomics recently launched a new website that does just that. You tell them what your problem is—or even better—pick from a list of pre-determined problems—and they’ll help you make the decision via a questionnaire. If you still can’t decide, they’ll flip a coin for you. According to Steven Levitt, “a coin toss is as good as any other solution.”
Having a long and storied history teaching individuals and facilitating organizational teams on their decision making process, we find this surprising, to say the least, coming from experts in human behavior. In our experience, good decision making is not about making the “right decision.” It is about making decisions based on the best set of facts available to us, a clear understanding of what we are trying to accomplish by the decision, and being comfortable with the “balance of benefits and risks” that the different alternatives present. And once the choice has been made, a visible decision making process provides a deeper understanding of the path to implement the decision smoothly. The bottom-line is that it’s not so much about making the right decision (there is no such thing) than it is about making an informed decision.
Can you imagine if one of our consultants said to a customer, “Well, it is a pretty tough decision whether to expand your manufacturing plant, but flipping a coin is as good as any other decision”? But apparently there are some that see merit to this approach. At the time of this writing, more than 18,000 coins have been flipped, and probably a lot more syrupy waffles eaten than recommended. Take a look and let us know your thoughts.