Making better decisions through the power of subtraction

Humans are pretty bad at decision-making.

No, really, left to our own devices, we’re biased, take shortcuts, overestimate our abilities, and gloss over complexity, resulting in wrong decisions roughly half the time.

Worse yet, we’re terrible at evaluating our own ideas. We want to be “right,” and we do an amazing job selecting data to prove that our decisions are spot on.

So, as a leader whose primary job is to make decisions – not just decisions that impact you, but your whole organization – how can we get better at making decisions?

One tool that has been helpful for me is the principle of SUBTRACTION.

Don’t try to get better; eliminate all the parts that make you worse!

If we can admit that we’re not great at making decisions, there are still ways we can improve.

  1. Use rules or algorithms whenever we can. Instead of making “one-off” decisions – create a process that decides for you!
  2. Make fewer decisions, and spend more time on them. There is always more information in the future!
  3. Create more margin so that the results of your bad decisions are less critical. When you have more time, money, and help, bad decisions are less likely to be catastrophic.
  4. Slaughter your ego. You’re not that good or that special. The side-benefit is that you will be less sure of yourself and less likely to drive over cliffs!
  5. Get more cooks in the kitchen. Making decisions alone is often harder than getting input from other smart people who see things from another angle.

Now you might be thinking, “Brad, if I follow this advice, I’m not going to be as nimble. It’s going to take longer to make decisions!

Yes, you are right about that.

There are times in life when you need a quick decision. When being wrong now is better than being right later.

But those are few and far between.

How are you working to make better decisions in your business? I’d really love to hear about tools, frameworks, or methods that are helping you. Would you hit reply and tell me about any that are helpful for you?

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