Below is a summary of an article about the decision making process and design thinking originally published on Antoine Marin’s Medium blog.
You’ve probably struggled with making big decisions at some point in your career. Following these tips can improve your decision making process immensely.
Over the past decade Antoine has worked with businesses to generate more ideas, improve communication, and design smarter. During that time he has utilized various methods in the decision making process in an effort to get the most out of people.
Some of the simplest and most efficient tools he’s come across are:
Get the most out of your brain
Structure you thoughts
Below is Antoine’s tried and true decision making process.
1. Before you start
You’ll need a block of Post-it notes, a marker and a whiteboard. Antoine recommends using the physical tools as opposed to web-based tools.
One common mistake is to skip using the Post-it and write directly on the whiteboard. This approach quickly reveals its limits when you need to start moving things around.
2. Express your ideas
Write every idea you can come up with on individual Post-it notes. Their size forces you to be concise and straightforward. Construct your ideas following this simple principle: Verb + Short expression (e.g. Review Mark’s presentation).
If it doesnt fit on a note, well, it probably means that your idea is too big. In that case, divide it into smaller ideas.
The more you produce, the merrier.
3. Sort your ideas
Once you’ve written all of your ideas down on Post-it notes it is time to organise theme by themes. There are many ways to approach this but Antoine points out 4 in his article.
A. The Eisenhower Principle
Select two criteria for the purposes of evaluation. For his example Antoine uses Urgent and Important. Divide the whiteboard into 4 sections by drawing two axes, one with an arrow pointing up and another with an arrow pointing to the right, and labeling each with one of your evaluation criteria. The most pressing ideas should be placed in the top right quadrant, while less pressing items should be placed appropriately in the bottom right or top left quadrant. The least pressing items should be placed in the bottom left quadrant.
Eisenhower Principle inspired by the late U.S. President.
Much like the Eisenhower principle the Effort/Impact approach also divides the whiteboard into 4 quadrants. Draw two axes one with an arrow pointing up labeled Impact and another with an arrow pointing to the right labeled effort. Here the quadrants are different than the previous example. The top left quadrant now should contain the quick wins, while the bottom left and top right quadrants contain less pressing items. The bottom right quadrant now should house the least pressing items as they require the most effort and offer the least amount of impact.
Mid to long-term strategic matrix.
C. Pros and cons
Exactly what it sounds like. Draw one line down the middle of the whiteboard and write Pros to the left and Cons to the right of the line. Arrange your ideas accordingly.
Pros and Cons. A classic.
An alternate take on the Pros and Cons method is the Nice to have/Must have model which can help you priortize your ideas.
The Kanban method distributes your ideas or tasks according to their current state of completion: not started, in progress, blocked, done. This works well when updated daily.
Kanban (literally billboard in Japanese) are often used in Software development.
Although these methods for the decision making process may be simple it doesn’t mean they are simplistic. Sometimes the simplest methods can help a team crack the most complex problems or tackle tough decisions. Use these methods individually or in combination with each other based on your needs.
If you can master these simple methods and incorporate them into your workflow you will make smarter decisions.