Who else has a hand on your wheel? April 26, 2007Posted by Jeff in Decision-Making.
Owners Manual: Your Business
Chapter 1, Decision Making
You are the captain of your ship. You are sailing at sea. In command. Steering your vessel to wherever you want. You alone have your hand on the wheel.
Are you absolutely sure about that?
Do you know how you arrive at your decisions?
How do you know?
A cruise through your decision making process
Let’s assume the ship you are sailing is real, not a metaphor. (And you have no issue with motion sickness.) You are sailing in an archipelago and decide stop at Deer Harbor (a real harbor on Orcas Island).
Why Deer Harbor?
Because you are the captain of your ship.
Let’s test your decision making
In order to evaluate your decision to sail into Deer Harbor, you can do what most people typically do. Test your decision making after the fact. So, you have purchased supplies, had a sumptuous dinner, and enjoyed a quiet walk.
Feeling better about your decision?
Sure you do. But, it’s likely not because your choice turned out so well. Robert Cialdini’s consistency principle suggests otherwise. The human need to be consistent (read: appear rational) leads us to find justification for our decisions after the fact, regardless of how we made them. So, testing your decision after it is made is not as valid.
Let’s take a look at when you made the decision
If we turn the clock back, we can see who has a hand on your wheel. What are the influences of your decision at the time you make it? If you are the captain of your ship, you make the decision to steer for Deer Harbor, because you “felt like it” or because “you can.”
But if we study a snapshot of you at the moment you made the decision to head for Deer Harbor, we can take note of a few other factors:
- You are short on supplies
- It’s getting late
- You are familiar with Deer Harbor
- Deer Harbor has the best steak in the archipelago
- Deer Harbor is a short trip from your present location
- Your travel companion insists, and knows how to find the choicest berth in the harbor
That’s a lot of hands on your wheel, isn’t it?
Decision making is about choices. Sensible for one can be folly for another. The difference is criteria. When it comes to where you weigh anchor for the night, this analysis might seem a little trivial.
When it comes to how you make decision about your business or strategic issues about your clients, understanding your choices and how you come to them is absolutely critical.
Let’s assume you are vacationing as a sailor, but your day job is graphic design. How do you make critical decisions about your business?
By choosing your influence
Influences on your decisions can be plotted within a six cell matrix.
Loosely adapted from the six cell attribution matrix in Crucial Confrontations.
The items on the side (self, other, thing) describe the source of the influence. The items along the top (intent, ability) describe the method of influence.
How do these six influences impact your decisions (steer your ship)?
Will – (Self/Intent)
- This is the place where you really are the captain of your ship.
- The captain in you selects the port because of choice.
- The graphic designer in you chooses to take on a project because it looks like fun.
Capacity – (Self/Ability)
- This is the place where you do because you can.
- The captain in you selects the port because you possess the skill to navigate into harbor.
- The graphic designer in you agrees to take on some copywriting for this new fun assignment because you have some training.
Influence – (Other/Intent)
- This is where a decision is made because another persuades you.
- The captain in you chooses Deer Harbor because it is the closest port and your companion is eager to stretch her legs.
- The graphic designer in you accepts an assignment because your client appeals to your need to feel needed (i.e. “I need your help”).
Support – (Other/Ability)
- This is where a choice is made because another facilitates or impedes your decision.
- The captain in you chooses Deer Harbor because your travel companion knows how to find the choicest berth in Deer Harbor.
- The graphic designer in you accepts the copywriting portion of the fun engagement because you have a friend who is a terrific editor who has agreed to help.
Stimulus – (Thing/Intent)
- This is where a decision is made based on an inducement of some kind.
- The captain in you chooses Deer Harbor because it has the best steak in the archipelago.
- The graphic designer in you chooses to take on an assignment because you need the piece for your portfolio or the client promises follow-on work.
Bridge – (Thing/Ability)
- This is where a decision is made based on the basis of ease or difficulty.
- The captain in you chooses to berth in Deer Harbor for the night because it is the closest port.
- The graphic designer in you turns down the fun project because your schedule is full for the next eight weeks.
Why is it important for you to understand how many hands are at your wheel?
Every decision you make takes you closer or further from your highest and best use.
Being present during your decisions is critical.
Understanding the influences on your decision helps provide a base for your perspective. When you understand your perspective, you can change it when necessary.