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Business & Life Skills

Decision Making: Making optimal decisions

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Whether you’re a newly minted MBA, a chronic second-guesser, or just someone eager for a new vantage point, The Decision Book presents fifty models for better structuring, and subsequently understanding, life’s steady challenges. Learn how to make a better decision about finding the right job using 3 techniques from The Decision Book.

Decision- Making: Making decisions

How do you make the very best decision? This was the question that prompted Mikael Krogerus wanted to write “The Decision Book”.  This book is a handy guide that can fit in your pocket as a handy reference for 50 models for strategic thinking.  Many of these decision models are ones that I learned in business school.  Each of the decision model comes with a 1-2 page description of the concept and then provides examples on how to apply the concept in real-life.

As a career and business coach, I’m always looking for simple models to share with my clients. This book offers advice that covers virtually any scenario that may need to get some perspective on. The beauty of this book is it’s simplicity.

In the interview and blog post, I showcase “how” you could combine several of these models together to answer a very common question “what should I do next in my career?”.  While the blog post and interview focuses on job search these same tools can be used for any question (where should we take the business next? What are some new product directions we can take? How can we become more productive as a team?).

Am I in the right job? am i headed in the right direction?

Many of my coaching engagements start with the client wondering, “Should I try to make this job work? Or should I find another job”. The authors of “The Decision Book” suggest that we apply a very simple discovery tool to gauge your emotional involvement in your work. Each time you do a project you record tasks on a scale of 0-10 instances situations when you:

  • Have to: To what extent your current tasks are being imposed or demanded of you.
  • Able to: To what extent do my tasks match my abilities?
  • Want to: To what extent does my current task correspond to what I really want?

After three weeks, ask yourself if you are moving in the right direction on each metric and whether your job offers you the variety and/or satisfaction that you want. For example, if after tracking you have high scores in demanding, and low scores in able and want to, it may be time to dive deeper to see if the job is a good fit. Here are some questions that you could ask yourself after tracking data for three weeks:

  • What do you want?
  • Are you able to do what you want?
  • What are you able to do?
  • Do you want what you are able to do?

In addition to the questions in the book, I’d add the following questions to consider:

  • Who is saying you “have to”? Is it someone external or your own internal standards? Can you loosen them? How can you change your mindset from a “have to” to “want to”?
  • If you are not “able to”? What skills or training would you need to fulfill job requirements?
  • If you don’t “want to”, what do you want to do instead? When was the last time you were able to do what you “want to”? What was it that you were doing?
  • Could there be some changes in your job so that you would “want to” more often?

Brainstorm on our ideal job (p31 exercise).

The Morphological Box and Scamper is a model developed in the 1930’s by Swiss physicist Fritz Zwicky at the Institute of Technology in California using morphological boxes.  This model helps expand your ideas by creating new entities/ideas which are really a combination of several attributes.  Initially, this model was used for jet engine technology, but is traditionally used for developing marketing strategies and new ideas.

The table is created by first coming up with the key attributes of the product (e.g.-jet engine in example below we use it for finding the ideal job) that are important to you, and then listing the product criteria (e.g.- product features, job criteria) that you are considering or have had in the past and weighing the various merits.

  • Rows: Come up with different attributes that are important for the project, job, or product you are considering (e.g- see table below of job attributes of fun, impact, etc)
  • Columns: Across the top list the types of jobs or products you know about and their merits relative to your criteria (e.g.- see below table with coaching, corporate, etc).

In the below case, we apply it to finding a new job.  Here’s how this information can help you make a decision, should I stay in my current job.  If so, how can I tweak it to be better? Should I find a new job and if so what would it be?

  • Stay in my job: If you see that your current job hits all the criteria, then you may want to stay in it. For example, you can see that the “corporate job” offers a great deal of what I’d like, so I should just stay in my current job.
  • Criteria for new job: Through this analysis you will start to see the criteria that is really important to you. Notice that the last column highlights the key attributes you’d want in a “new job”.
  • Create ideal job: Once you have identified all that you want, it may spark new ideas for a job. I’ve highlighted in bold the items most important to me for my next job and in the far column to the right have criteria for a new job.


Coaching Corporate Training Radio


New Job Idea
Fun Connection and laughter Straight Line and Path. Linear. Spontaneous, Responsive.   Spontaneous, Responsive. 
Impact 1-1/Deep 1-many/wide and somewhat  deep 1-1   and 1-many

wide and light

 1-many/wide and somewhat  deep
Freedom Follow client’s goals, but can use lots of models for solving problems. Client leads and I am limited to training material. Creative freedom. Pick content, authors.    Creative freedom. Pick content, authors.  
Learning Human behavior/motivations. Learn how people think, work, operate given their personality. Corporate processes, Corporate culture, corporate mgmt. style. Processes. New topics. New books. New ideas.  Corporate processes, Corporate culture, corporate mgmt. style. Processes.
Fulfillment Change lives and deep insight. Make difference in person’s life Change how people interact at work. Value relationships and culture.   Educate, inform, change perspective, serve as resource. Way of giving back. Change how people interact at work. Value relationships and culture.  
Money Long time engagement, high hourly rate High hourly rate and lots of hours in short time.  Not paid High hourly rate and lots of hours in short time. 
Flexibility Work weekly and can add as many clients as I want. Work 1-3 month on, and can then take off long chunks.  Weekly commitment.  Work 1-3 month on, and can then take off long chunks. 

What would it be like if you moved forward on one of these options (rubber band) p22/23

The Personal Compass developed by The Gove consulting agency allows you to review your past, take stock of your present, and imagine and plan your future so you can get clear with your hopes and dreams, access your situation, and set goals.  Mikael Korgerus shares the following questions from this model:

  • What is next?
  • Where have you come from?
  • What is really important to you?
  • Which people are important to you?
  • What is hindering you?
  • What are you afraid to do?

Using the above scenario, you’d ask this about your next career move.  What do you want to do next? What are your transferable skills? What is important to achieve in your next job (e.g.-criteria, salary, promotion, learning, etc)

Next think about all the roads you can take:

  • The road that beckons- what have you always wanted to try?
  • That road that I imagine in my wildest dreams, regardless of whether its achievable or not- what do you dream of?
  • The road that seems most sensible to me- the one that people whose opinion you value would suggest.

Most of the time, my clients looking for job focus on the most sensible.  However, when they expand to their dreams and things they want to try, they feel more excitement and possibility. What we general find after discussion is that it’s possible to do not only something closer to your dreams, but also that is sensible.