How to Make Better Decisions

Making decisions, especially major business and life decisions, can be stressful. Big decisions often go hand in hand with lengthy debates and lots of worrying.

As none of us knows what the future will hold, it is only possible to make a decision based on what we know at this point in time.

So how do we make sure that we have considered everything before we decide?

Well-known physician, author, inventor and consultant Edward de Bono writes in his book Six Thinking Hats that we should explore the different states that the brain uses to think. This technique can be useful to ensure that we explore all known aspects of an opportunity.

Let us see how the different thinking hats can help us decide:

White hat

This hat looks at all the available information, hard facts and figures. Consider the information by asking:

  • What information is available?

  • What is the critical information I need to help me decide?

  • What is the missing information and where can I get it?

Red hat

This hat considers the gut feeling and emotions you might be experiencing. List these feelings and emotions without explaining them. Consider the following questions:

  • What emotions come up when I consider the options?

  • Have my emotions changed over the time?

  • What does my gut tell me?

Green hat

This hat takes a creative slant and explores the possible outcomes of your decision. At this stage this is done without considering limitations. Explore by asking:

  • What are the opportunities and possibilities?

  • How can these opportunities and possibilities unfold?

Yellow hat

This hat takes the positive or optimistic position and enables you to identify the benefits of your options in an analytical way.

  • What are the positive aspects of the options?

  • How will the options benefit me?

Black hat

This hat covers critical thinking where the obstacles, risks, constraints and downsides of the options are considered.

  • What are the negatives?

  • What will I lose?

  • What are the trade-offs?

Blue hat

This hat thinks about the process of thinking, making sure all aspects are covered.

  • What else do I need to consider when making the decision?

You can follow this process on your own or in a group. When you do this in a group, specific people can wear specific hats to help you to obtain objective and creative input.

A word of encouragement from Anthony Robbins, American author and success coach: “Your life changes the moment you make a new, congruent, and committed decision.”