Decision-Making - Needs

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Higher Awareness of Needs Makes for Better Decisions
Everything seems to vie for our attention, but yet, we are selectively attentive to only a fraction of the stimuli our senses are prepared to send us. Our mental processors can only handle so much data, and the data that gets selected and processes depends on what we decide to pay attention to. The better our focus, the more selectively our brain can process the relevant data.

The quality of our decisions depends greatly upon the amount of awareness we have at the time we make them. Higher levels of awareness - the processing of a wide array of information coming to the brain via our senses - helps us to make wiser choices.

After we take the action that follows the decision, we find out more information...or how well our choice hit the target of our intentions. With the results of our actions evident, we know if we made the right decision or not. With hindsight, we may wish we had made a difference choice. We have regrets only to the extent that we have increased awareness. So, it is not our choice that we regret so much as the lack of sufficient awareness at the time of our decision that prevented us from making a better choice.

Thus, the key to good decisions is adequacy of awareness. Unfortunately, there is a limit of how much awareness one can accumulate before they have to make a decision. Decisions have to be made looking forward, not looking backwards. Decisions have to be timely, otherwise opportunities to make them are fleeting, and can be too late if one delays too long.

Still, one can use the principle- more awareness means better decisions. One must use the time wisely between the need to make a decision and the actual making of the decision. By becoming acutely aware of the decision and all sensory data that pertains to it, we allow ourselves to become hyper-aware. Acute awareness gives us a slight edge in making more effective decisions. Thus, before making a decision - even a quick one - become as cognizant and aware of all relevant factors before making the decision. You will have fewer regrets, because greater awareness makes better decisions.

Decision are Solutions

Decisions are the intended solutions to for satisfying unfulfilled needs.   People make decisions, because they 1) have unmet needs, and 2) there are multiple ways to satisfy them.    In, a trivial sense, people always have to decide what to do next with their resources (time, energy, and investment capital- which includes their innate capabilities).    The focus of this website is on the major, complex decisions facing individuals and organizations.    So, the trigger for any major decision is an unfulfilled want or need that has multiple ways to fulfill it.  Some people make a distinction between a want (luxury that they think will make them happy) and a need (necessity for one's well-being).  In this context, it doesn't matter.  What does matter his how important is the need or want?  By definition, a need is important if the decision-maker is willing to spend the resources to satisfy the need.  This website is dedicated to helping the decision-maker make a good decision by using a disciplined, decision making approach.   

You can claim you understand your need if you can describe it.  In one sentence, describe the want or need that you to want to fulfill and your perceived reason for wanting it (outcome desired).   A good statement of need includes a description of the need (I need _____) and the reason why you have that need (because ________).  Examples might be any of the following:
1. I need to remove the large tree from my back yard, because it has overgrown the area and it poses a safety hazard.
2. I need a new job, because I am no longer fulfilled in my current one and the opportunities for advancement are limited.
3. I need to improve my relationship with my next door neighbor, because we often argue over the loud noises coming from their house late at night.

Once you have a preliminary statement of need, you can state the decision succinctly.   For example, in each of the above needs, the corresponding decisions are as follows:

1. How to remove a safety hazard from the backyard.   Note removing the tree may be one of the alternatives to satisfying this need.   And if this option is picked, then there may be multiple ways to remove it. 
2. Finding a way to make one's job more fulfilling with more opportunities for advancement.   And a new job is just one way to satisfy this need.  
3. How to eliminate loud noises coming from a neighbor's house late at night.  And improving relationships with the neighbor is just one way to satisfy this need. .

With a good statement of need, the decision-maker is now ready to move to defining the values or what constitutes a good solution or outcome to the need.  In other words, once the selected alternative is implemented, how will the decision-maker know if the decision was a good one?  Having a set of values or criteria will allow the decision-maker to determine whether the needs were satisfied.  If the criteria were met, then the decision-maker can declare that the decision was a good one. 


Website last updated on 10/19/08
Copyright 2005 Charles W. Sooter.  All rights reserved.