In Pursuit of the Perfect Decision
Perfect decisions are impossible, but pursuing them is not.
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I recently bought a new car, and there are so many cars with so many options offered at so many prices that it quickly gets overwhelming. Trying to make the perfect decision, to get the objectively best deal, is nearly impossible. It would take an enormous amount of time to evaluate every model, every option and every price to get the very best deal.
At the same time, cars are such a big purchase that it feels like you should try to make the perfect decision. If you’re going to spend that much money, you want the best deal. Even if you don’t have the time, or the best decision is impossible to make, you want the best deal. It’s stressful.
We talk a lot about decision frameworks here, and it can be tempting to think we’re pursuing the perfect decision. Most business decisions are even harder than buying a car, as they are less well defined and you have much less data. Even with a perfect framework, the chances you make the perfect decision is low!
Perfect decisions are not our goal.
Our pursuit of better decision making frameworks is all about ensuring we make a great, but not perfect, decision. We want to eliminate all of the bad options so that we are left with a set of options which are all pretty great. We might not know which of these is the best, but it might not matter much if we pick the best option or the second best option.
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For example, let’s say we’re hiring an executive. We used a great hiring process, and we’re left with three finalist candidates for the position. Each of them is great, but different, and we need to choose which one to hire. How do we decide?
We can stress about the decision, or we can realize that if all three candidates are amazing and it’s hard to choose then likely all of them are great choices. While it might be best to choose the perfect candidate from that group, there might be no way for us to know which is the perfect candidate.
Hiring any of the three will be great for our company.
That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t spend time on the decision, but it means we can leave the stress behind. We’ve done the hard work to ensure we have nothing but great choices so why stress? Stress clouds our judgment and leads to second guessing ourselves.
The long term success of your business does not change much if you make perfect decisions or just really great decisions. On the other hand, if you are stressed pursuing the perfect decision you might delay or not make decisions at all! Your long term success will suffer if that happens.
So, give yourself a break. Use the frameworks, do the work and give yourself the best options. But when it comes to choosing from a few great options, don’t worry.
The worst that can happen is that you do really well. That doesn’t sound so bad.
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