Most of our work at Catalyze is helping large organisations make complex decisions and have them stick, but I find people are increasingly asking me “is anything about that relevant to me as an individual making my personal decisions?” 

The short answer is YES! People make decisions – whether these decisions are at the personal level: “should I change jobs?”, “where should I live?”, “where should I go on holiday?”, or at the large organisational level “what’s the best strategic direction for us?”, “where should we strategically invest for the future?”, “which projects will best deliver our change programme?”. 

And it’s the same for human beings making all these decisions, both large and small. I find the key is to take a principles-based approach to decision making, and by applying the principles of conscious, structured, transparent, collaborative decision making – Decision Thinking; anyone can get greater clarity in their decisions and confidence that the decision will turn out. 

To illustrate, I’ll compare an example of a personal decision vs a corporate one, with each of the four principles of Decision Thinking: 

Corporate: making a strategic investment in acquiring another business 

Personal: buying a new family car 

Principle 1: Process before content 

  • Corporate – a decision process might be a 3-month series of workshops, building a decision model, developing a range of options, a collaboration decision workshop and a board recommendation. 
  • Personal – a decision process might be researching possible cars online, visiting them in the showrooms, test drives, a family meeting to compare and decide. 

Principle 2: Academic rigour 

  • Corporate – the decision process might include financial and non-financial modelling, social process, rigorous options evaluation etc. 
  • Personal – the decision process might involve a matrix of car options against a range of criteria and a simple scoring process with careful, but simple weighting of criteria. 

Principle 3: Active stakeholder participation 

  • Corporate – key stakeholders might include the board, shareholders, the owners of the target company and staff, and they may be involved in workshops or decision conferences. 
  • Personal – key stakeholders might include the family members, friends who might borrow the car or extended family members who care about family safety. 

Principle 4: Tangible and intangible value 

  • Corporate – value might include: revenue or profit growth from the new business, environmental sustainability, reputation and brand of the new business. 
  • Personal – value might include: safety, prestige, build quality, coolness, driveability or fuel economy. 

So, although the decision ‘content’ is quite different, the principles and way of thinking about the decision is fundamentally the same for best practice decision making whether it’s a personal decision or a corporate one.