Friday, December 6, 2013

Would you like to Make Better Choices in Life and at Work?

I was just like you, until recently and naively believed that when faced with a choice, it was only possible to choose one or the other. Since reading a few books, articles and research papers on decision making and testing the principals myself, I believe that with a little creative thinking, it is often possible to have both. As Steve Cole, vice president of research and development at HopeLab, a silicon valley, a not for profit organisation so eloquently said and has demonstrated on numerous occasions. “Any time in life I am tempted to think, Should I do this or that, instead ask yourself, Is there anyway, I can do this AND that”?

As Steve says and has demonstrated on numerous occasions, it is possible. With creative, innovative thinking, it is not only feasible, but possible to have both. A perfect example of this was when HopeLab, wanted to find a partner to work with them, to create an effective way of measuring the amount of daily exercise kids were getting.

There were a number of different companies around, who could do the work for them. If they had used the usual contracting mind-set, they would have asked for proposals from all of them and then awarded a huge contract to the winner. Instead of following this limiting approach, Steve asked five of the potential to produces to build a simple prototype. As a non-profit, they did not have an unlimited budget, so to do this; effectively Steve only got the five potential producers of the measurement device, to build just the first step in the project. 

This approach ensured that Steve had multiple design alternatives, which allowed him to either pick his favourite or even better, he had the option to combe the best features of several together. In round two, he was then able to weed out the vendors who were unresponsive or ineffective. Using this approach, he was able to avoid narrow framing. When you define your choices too narrowly, you limit your thinking and can never think in binary terms.

Remember that the quality of your questions determines the quality of your life. The better the quality of the question, the better will be the result in the end. 

Let me give you a few examples to explain this concept a little better
  • People ask limiting questions like: “Should I break with my partner or not” instead of framing a better question, which gives them more scope and the ability to make better decisions, like “What are the ways I can make the relationship better”? 
  •  Let’s try another example to try to explainthis concept a little better. People ask limiting questions like “Should I buy a new car or not”, which restricts and limits their choices about how they can best spend or invest the families money. A better question, which does not preclude the option to buy a car, but opens up all sorts of better options, is “What is the best way I could spend some money to make both me and my family happier”?
  •  Consider the average person sitting contemplating their week on a Sunday evening. Imagine how limiting asking a typical question like, “How am I going to get through tomorrow”, is? Imagine all the possibilities you open up for yourself, when you ask a far more empowering question like, “What can I get from my day”?
When you use this approach and you invest the time to frame better questions. You equip yourself to consider multiple choices at the same time. Yes it does take more time to frame better questions, but believe me the benefits, way outweigh the costs involved. 

I know this concept of thinking "AND" instead of "OR" can be very intimidating at first. Try it, experiment with it and you will be astounded at how many times, you can actually have both. Once you have developed your “AND” decision making muscle and learned the art of expanding your ability to frame any decision or rather to ask better quality questions. You will have access to a really powerful tool to help you achieve incredible levels of success.

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