It’s not just a bad idea to try to make decisions from pure logic – it’s actually not possible. Join me in today’s podcast episode to walk through my framework for understanding why values are a requirement for any sized decision, personal or professional, and how you can combine a clearer understanding of your values with the right data to make more effective choices.
Values are essential for making decisions because they are what give weight to different outcomes and costs. Consider the last time you used Apple or Google Maps. First, you had to know where you were going. That’s not a data question – that’s about what you’re trying to accomplish at that moment. Then, once you plug in that destination, Apple or Google uses ALL THE DATA to come up with several different routes – one that’s the fastest, one that uses the least fuel, maybe even one with the fewer turns. Which one do you pick? All that data was vital to define the cost and benefits of the different routes, but no amount of data can tell you whether it would be more important to you at that moment to get somewhere quickly vs. efficiently. That depends on your values. Without values, your decision-making landscape becomes hopelessly ‘flat’: there’s nothing that distinguishes any one outcome or sacrifice from another.
The thing is, you don’t need me to tell you to make decisions this way – you already are, because it’s the ONLY way to make decisions. What I offer in this episode is a framework to make all those pieces explicit and transparent so you can facilitate group decisions within your organization and combat the dangers of opaque choices. The framework involves five steps, which I capture in the acronym EMOTE:
E=Eden. This is your destination, the goal you are trying to achieve
M=Morals/Mitigate. These are the values and constraints that must be respected while attempting to get to Eden.
O=Options. Brainstorm options that will (likely) get you to Eden without obviously violating your key morals or constraints.
T=Triangulate. Bring in the necessary data points to weigh your options against the amount of progress they make towards your Eden, how well they support your values, and whether there are any unmitigated limitations.
E=Evaluate. After you’ve made your choice, review: how effective was your choice? How accurate were any assumptions or guesses you needed to make? How can you adapt or improve?
Please leave me a note in the comments or send me a message letting me know what you think of this framework, whether it works for you, and how I can improve it!
What You Can Do
If you’re out and about while listening to this episode, I recommend coming back again after you’ve finished it to get the slides and follow along with the framework on a real-life decision you are facing.
Here’s me with one of my sources of values I try to use when making decisions. When you are faced with choices for your organization, you will be using your organization’s values and constraints rather than your own. If you aren’t clear on what they are, that is a very important place to start this process!