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Albert Bernstein on the Dinosaur Brain and How To Make Bad Decisions

I enjoyed reading Dinosaur Brains: Dealing with All Those Impossible People at Work by Albert Bernstein.

Near the end of the book, Bernstein playfully illuminates how too many decisions get made.

  1. Take an idea from some authority figure, maybe your boss, or an author;
  2. Tell everyone this idea is the basis for all the change you're going to make;
  3. Do things the way you've always done them;
  4. If something changes, take credit for it. If something bad happens, point out that this just goes to show that the old way of doing things was better.

Sound familiar? It should.

Another approach, let's call it the more rational approach, might look something like:

  1. Understand the problem, or set a goal;
  2. Establish criteria (how will you know the problem is solved or you've reached your goal);
  3. Generate alternatives;
  4. Measure alternatives versus criteria and try a few of them;
  5. Evaluate;
  6. Choose the best solution.

This approach probably won't get you promoted, but it will increases the odds of making better decisions.