Thursday, August 25, 2005

The cons of pros and cons

Not long ago, I again heard someone try to make a decision by listing pros and cons and then comparing the two lists. Please don't do that in your organizations! I've found it far too easy to "stack the deck" that way, producing excess pros (or cons) for one side or the other of a particular issue almost arbitrarily.

Charles Kepner and Benjamin Tregoe wrote The New Rational Manager: An Updated Edition for a New World to describe the results of their research into effective decision-making, and doing it by pros and cons was an example of the way not to be effective. For a quick introduction, see a short article I wrote for the Northwest Entrepreneur Network.

That's not to deny the importance of Gary Klein's recognition-primed decision model (I'm still thinking about that), especially in those cases where time is of the utmost importance. Even then, rehearsing decisions in advance when you do have the time to try a more rational approach might be a good way to sharpen intuition and help make better decisions and avoid disastrous mistakes.

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