One of the worst things we can do when making decisions is to frame them too narrowly. This can lead us to the wrong thought process – and false choices.
As Dan Heath puts it in his new book, “The first villain of decision making, narrow framing, is the tendency to define our choices too narrowly, to see them in binary terms. We ask, ‘Should I break up with my partner or not?’ instead of ‘What are the ways I could make this relationship better?’ We ask ourselves, ‘Should I buy a new car or not?’ instead of ‘What’s the best way I could spend some money to make my family better off?'”
Or – to put this in nonprofit terms – we ask, “Should we have an event or not? Should we blog or not? Should we get rid of that board member or not?”
Dan’s new book Decisive is all about this kind of problem. Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work provides practical ways to beat narrow framing and other villains of decision making. Here are two of his tips (and I quote):
1. Consider opportunity cost. If you are considering an investment of time or money, ask yourself, “What is the next best way I could spend this time/money?” If you can’t come up with any other combination that seems enticing, you should feel more confident that you’re making the right investment.
2. Multitrack your options. Always try to think AND not OR. Can you avoid choosing among your options and try several at once? For instance, if you’re deciding whether to invest time in Spanish lessons or ballroom dancing classes, do both for a while until one of them “wins.” Or, rather than hire one employee out of three candidates, could you give all three a 2-week consulting project so that you can compare their work on a real-world assignment?
For more tips, join a free Network for Good webinar with Dan today at 1 pm Eastern. Register here.
PS for fun, here is one of Dan’s great teaching videos on giving better presentations. It draws on his book, Made to Stick.