Farnam Street helps you make better decisions, innovate, and avoid stupidity.

With over 350,000 monthly readers and more than 87,000 subscribers to our popular weekly digest, we've become an online intellectual hub.

How To Make Bad Decisions

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

Near the end of the book the author 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.

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 increases the probability of making better decisions.

Which approach do you use to make decisions?

Still curious? Dinosaur Brains is worth the read if you’re into learning about psychology and corporate culture.