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How to Make Great Decisions: Insights from 30 Leading Decision-Makers

Here is Decision-making wisdom from 30 of the world’s most influential thinkers - strategies for enhancing our ability to choose wisely. Despite the loss of three of these luminaries, their groundbreaking contributions continue to influence decision knowledge. Spanning disciplines, these experts shed light the processes that underpin our choices offering some advice to navigate the complexities inherent in decision-making.

AUTHOR: Kylee Ingram


How to Make Great Decisions: Insights from 30 Leading Decision-Makers

Here is Decision-making wisdom from 30 of the world’s most influential thinkers - strategies for enhancing our ability to choose wisely. Despite the loss of three of these luminaries, their groundbreaking contributions continue to influence decision knowledge. Spanning disciplines, these experts shed light the processes that underpin our choices offering some advice to navigate the complexities inherent in decision-making.

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1. Critically evaluate your immediate intuitions Daniel Kahneman, was a Nobel laureate in economics. Daniel advanced our understanding of cognitive biases and decision-making under uncertainty. He suggests questioning our intuitions and biases, encouraging a slow, deliberate, and analytical approach. His research demonstrates how easily judgment can be clouded by biases, leading to poor decisions. When making a decision, make sure to critically evaluate your immediate intuitions.

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2. Watch out for Cognitive Biases Amos Tversky - Kahneman's Collaborator Amos played a crucial role in developing prospect theory and heuristics. He highlighted the impact of cognitive biases on judgment and decision-making, advocating for the awareness of these biases to improve decision accuracy. When making a decision, remember to recognize and adjust for these cognitive shortcuts.

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3. Ensure you Structure Your Choices Richard Thaler, Nobel laureate in economics Richard has significantly contributed to the field of behavioral economics and decision-making. He advocates for structuring choices in a way that nudges individuals toward beneficial outcomes, leveraging insights from his research on how people make economic and financial decisions. When making a decision, aim to structure your choices to facilitate better outcomes.

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4. Consider how the Presentation of Options can Influence Your Choice Cass R. Sunstein, co-authored "Nudge" with Thaler. Sunstein@LinkedIn Cass focuses on how design choices influence decisions. He suggests the strategic use of choice architecture to improve decision outcomes, drawing from his extensive work on law and behavioral economics. When making a decision, consider how the presentation of options can influence your choice.

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5. Strive for Rationality Dan Ariely, author and professor Ariely@LinkedIn Dan is known for his research on irrational behavior in decision-making. He recommends acknowledging and counteracting irrational tendencies, informed by his experiments that expose the irrational ways people often make economic decisions. When making a decision, be mindful of irrational influences and strive for rationality.

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6. Consider a Variety of Perspectives Barbara Mellers, a psychologist Meller@LinkedIn Barbara specializes in judgment and decision-making, advises incorporating diverse perspectives and analytical methods to enhance decision quality. Her advice is rooted in her research into how judgments are formed and how the aggregation of different viewpoints can lead to better decisions. When making a decision, seek out and consider a variety of perspectives.

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7. Learn from feedback Philip E. Tetlock, a political science professor Tetlock@LinkedIn Philip is known for his research on forecasting and decision-making. He recommends developing and refining forecasting skills through practice and feedback, based on his studies on the accuracy of political forecasts. When making a decision, use probabilistic thinking and learn from feedback to improve your judgment accuracy.

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8. Focus on Simple Rules of Thumb and Intuition Gerd Gigerenzer, a psychologist. Gerd@LinkedIn

Gerd advocates for the use of heuristics and the power of gut feeling in certain decision-making scenarios. His research into the intelligence of the unconscious mind suggests that not all decisions need complex analysis. When making a decision, don't overlook the value of simple rules of thumb and intuition.

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9. Consider the Probabilities and Outcomes Annie Duke, a former professional poker player and author Duke@LinkedIn Annie suggests adopting a mindset that views decisions as bets on the future, merging her poker expertise with decision-making strategies. This approach emphasizes the separation of outcome quality from decision quality. When making a decision, consider the probabilities and outcomes as when placing a bet on the future.

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10. Simplify Scenarios to Clarify Your Options Yuval Salant, a professor

Yuval delves into the complexities of decision-making, using models like chess to explore strategic interactions. He emphasizes the importance of simplifying decision contexts to better manage complexity, drawing from his research on game theory and strategic behavior. When making a decision, aim to simplify complex scenarios to clarify your strategic options

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11. Apply a Clear and Structured Approach Jörg L. Spenkuch, Economist Spenkuch@LinkedIn Jorg is an expert in economic modelling of decision-making processes, underscores the importance of clear frameworks for evaluating options in complex decisions. His advice stems from his belief in the power of structured analysis to navigate through the fog of complexity efficiently. When making a decision, always aim to apply a clear and structured approach to assess your options.

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12. Find Solutions that Benefit Everyone Max H. Bazerman, Harvard Business School Max renowned for his insights into negotiation dynamics and decision-making, encourages the pursuit of objective analysis and the seeking of win-win outcomes in negotiations. His guidance is founded on the idea that understanding and aligning the interests of all parties can lead to more fruitful negotiations. When entering a negotiation, prioritize finding solutions that benefit all involved.

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13. Think about what role the decision plays in your experience and memories Michael I. Norton, Harvard Business School focuses on how our spending choices impact our happiness. He advises investing in experiences over material goods to foster long-term well-being, a recommendation that reflects his research into consumer behavior. When considering a purchase, think about its contribution to your experiences and memories.

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14. Engage Your Curiosity and Consider Unconventional Options Francesca Gino, Harvard Business School Gino@LinkedIN Francesca explores how curiosity and a willingness to challenge the status quo can lead to improved decision-making. Her work emphasizes the role of creativity and ethics in making better choices. When faced with a decision, encourage curiosity and consider unconventional options.

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15. Tap into your experience and intuition Gary Klein, Cognitive Psychologist Gary is recognized for his development of the recognition-primed decision (RPD) model, which leverages intuition developed through experience. He advocates for trusting one's gut in situations where fast decision-making is paramount. When making a quick decision, rely on your experience and intuition to guide you.

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16. Be aware of Your Limitations in Perception Daniel Simons Simons@LinkedIn Daniel delves into the cognitive limitations affecting how we perceive and remember our world. He recommends being conscious of these limitations in our decision-making processes, advising a mindful approach to how we assess information. When making a decision, be aware of how your perception and attention may be limited.

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17. Strive to Understand Other's Emotions and Perspectives Chris Voss Voss@LinkedIn Chris brings his experience as an FBI hostage negotiator into the realm of negotiation and decision-making under pressure. He highlights the importance of tactical empathy, suggesting that understanding and influencing the emotional state of another can be a powerful tool in negotiations. When negotiating, strive to understand the emotions and perspectives of others.

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18. Be Open to Changing your Stance, See Others Perspectives Adam Grant Grant@LinkedIn through his work on organizational psychology, Adam suggests that openness to revising opinions and encouraging dissenting views can significantly enhance decision-making. He believes in the value of flexibility and diversity of thought. When making decisions, especially in a team, be open to changing your stance and encourage others to share their perspectives.

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19. Focus on Your Objectives Angela Duckworth Duckworth@LinkedIn Angela champions the role of perseverance and grit in achieving long-term goals. Her advice is to embrace persistence as a decisive factor in successful decision-making, grounded in her research on self-control. When aiming for a long-term goal, maintain perseverance and focus on your objectives.

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20. ​​Limit Your Options to a Manageable Number Sheena Iyengar Iyengar@LinkedIn Sheena investigates how the abundance of choices affects our satisfaction with decisions. She recommends simplifying choices to avoid the overwhelm and paralysis that can come from too many options, based on her studies on choice overload. When making a decision, limit your options to a manageable number to enhance satisfaction.

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21. Factor in the Unexpected Nassim Nicholas Taleb Taleb@LinkedIn Nassim focuses on the impact of highly improbable events and the importance of embracing uncertainty in our decisions. He advises preparing for the unpredictable as a way to navigate the complexities of modern life. When planning for the future, factor in the possibility of unexpected events.

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22. Apply Economic Principles to Find Straightforward Solutions Tim Harford, economist and author Hartford@LinkedIn Tim advocates for the pragmatic application of economic theory to solve everyday problems. He encourages a problem-solving approach that values simplicity and practicality in decision-making. When faced with a problem, apply economic principles to find straightforward solutions.

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23. Understand how Persuasive Techniques May Affect Your Judgment Robert Cialdini Cialdini@LinkedIn Robert explores the principles of persuasion and their impact on our decisions. He advises understanding these principles to make better-informed decisions and to resist unwanted influence. When making a decision, be aware of how persuasive techniques may be affecting your judgment.

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24. Focus on Your Core Priorities Chip Heath & Dan Heath. Chip@LinkedIn Dan@LinkedIn These brothers wrote Switch. They focus on the importance of clarifying core priorities to simplify complex decisions. Their work suggests that understanding what truly matters can lead to clearer and more effective decision-making. When faced with complexity, identify and focus on your core priorities.

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25. Critically Evaluate Expert Opinions and Consider Multiple Sources Noreena Hertz, author Hertz@LinkedIn Noreena emphasizes the need for critical thinking and questioning expert opinions to foster independent decision-making. Her insights encourage a questioning mindset as a counterbalance to over-reliance on authority. When seeking advice, critically evaluate expert opinions and consider multiple sources.

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26. Balance Your Emotional Instincts with Rational Analysis Paul Slovic, Professor

Paul studies decision-making and risk perception, highlighting how emotional responses to risk can influence our choices. He advises a balanced approach to assessing risk, combining emotional responses with analytical thinking. When evaluating risks, balance your emotional instincts with rational analysis.

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27. See if an Acceptable Solution is More Achievable Then a Perfect One Herbert A. Simon, Nobel laureate Herbert introduced the concept of "satisficing" — seeking satisfactory rather than optimal solutions. His work suggests that perfection is often unattainable,and aiming for good enough solutions can often be the most effective strategy. When making decisions, especially in complex scenarios, consider whether an acceptable solution might be more achievable and beneficial than the perfect one.

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28. Consider Both the Probabilities and The Impacts Elke Weber, Professor Princeton University Weber@LinkedIn Elke is renowned for her research on how people perceive and decide under conditions of risk and uncertainty. She suggests that careful consideration of risk and uncertainty is essential for making informed decisions. When faced with risky decisions, weigh the potential outcomes carefully, considering both the probabilities and the impacts.

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29. Balance Confidence with Your Knowledge and Uncertainty of the Situation Don Moore,Professor Berkeley Moore@LinkedIn

Don specializes in the study of confidence in decision-making. He advises calibrating confidence accurately to avoid the pitfalls of overconfidence. His research underscores the importance of aligning confidence with one's abilities and the available evidence. When assessing your options, strive for a balanced level of confidence that reflects your knowledge and the uncertainty of the situation.

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