“But when we teach people a process for reframing choices, when we give them a series of steps that causes a decision to seem a little bit different than before, it helps them take more control of what’s going on inside their heads” - Eric Johnson, Columbia psychologist (262)
We have so. much. data. From our phones to our watches to our computers to our cars, the amount of data that exists for a single person is enormous. However, when it comes times for big decisions we often struggle. Oftentimes, we don’t even use the data we have at our finger tips! Absorbing Data is probably my favorite chapter in Smarter Faster Better as it outlines a very systematic process for decision making called the “engineering design process.” You’ve probably heard or done something similar:
Define the dilemma -> Collect Data -> Brainstorm solutions -> Debate Approaches -> Experiment
But it isn’t a linear process like it looks above - it’s a circle. So after you experiment, you go back to defining the dilemma if the experiment failed.
The benefit to this process and the key ingredient to it is the experimentation. This process is meant to be quick and used often. Conduct the experiment, see if it resulted in positive or negative results, and then keep on conducting experiments. Refine the data to get smaller and smaller data sets to see if you can manipulate them. Creating a process for all your decisions will help you not get locked into a “this makes sense to do X” without thinking about the alternate side. Add distruption to your decisions by gathering all the data, creating the lists that outline the pros and cons for each decision, and then acting.