5 ways to make better decisions for your business
07 August 2019
Ralph Waldo Emerson, the transcendentalist essayist, lecturer, philosopher, and poet once said:
Once you have made a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.
But making a decision is a difficult thing to do at the best of times and even more so in a business context. We’ve drawn up 5 tips to help you make the right decisions:
1. Don’t decide on your own
If you work by yourself, talk it through with friends or family – or even an imaginary friend. Other people’s opinions could be useful (although maybe not your imaginary friend’s), but the important bit is explaining the problem – the very act of organising your thoughts can help clarify them. Similarly, you can write down your decision and its pros and cons.
2. Don’t decide when you’re hungry or tired
A study from Columbia Business School on parole hearings showed that a prisoner’s chances can depend on when the judge last took a break – because tired, hungry judges are more likely to go for the easy option of denying parole. In fact, prisoners whose judge had just had a rest and a snack had a 65% chance of parole – but those at the end of a session declined to almost zero.
3. Do decide while you need a wee
Research reported in Psychological Science suggests that people make better decisions when they need to go to the loo – because the control needed for a full bladder increases our control over our impulses, leading to more rational decisions.
NB: participants in the study drank a lot of water. We don’t recommend taking this approach to decision-making with beer, wine or intoxicating spirits…
4. Don’t compare two options side by side
Our minds are riddled with ‘cognitive biases’ – rules of thumb that we use save energy during everyday life – but these can lead us astray. The bias identified here is “distinction bias.” When we compare two options directly, we think to inflate the importance of the specific differences between them and pay less attention to other elements. So try to evaluate each option separately, on its own merits, before making your choice.
Technology companies lean into distinction bias: for example, they will offer otherwise identical computers with different memory sizes. People consistently pay over the odds to upgrade because seeing the two options side by side makes memory size seem more significant.
5. Do realise that your decision isn’t the end of the story
Have you noticed how it’s easier to make decisions for other people than for yourself? That’s because (no matter how much you like or respect the other person) you feel less pressure when making a decision with fewer personal consequences. So try to take the pressure off by reminding yourself that your decision isn’t final. Almost every decision is reversible – perhaps at the cost of a bit of time or admin, but you’re unlikely to be stuck with it forever.
Making the right financial decision
We’ve eliminated red tape from our own business, and we pass the benefits on to you. You’ll always speak to the same person, who will get to know you and your needs. And, because we’re not burdened by unnecessary paperwork or processes, we’re able to treat you as an intelligent human being. Not just a tick box on a form.
That’s why White Oak UK brings money into your business, not bureaucracy.