I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.
—Stephen R. Covey
Decision making is our most powerful skill to shape the future; making good decisions is the key to getting the most of what we want out of life. To judge the quality of a decision before we act, we need to understand what goes into it. Every decision can be dissected into six distinct elements, each of which must be addressed with quality. This leads to six requirements for a good decision: (1) an appropriate frame, (2) creative alternatives, (3) relevant and reliable information, (4) clear values and tradeoffs, (5) sound reasoning, and (6) commitment to action.
The frame specifies the problem or opportunity we are tackling, including what is to be decided. Along with the frame, three things must be clarified: alternatives define what we can do; information captures what we know and believe (but cannot control); and values represent what we want and hope to achieve. Together these three form the decision basis. They are combined using reasoning, which guides us to the best choice given what we want (values) and in light of what we know (information). Reasoning helps us understand what we should do, creating clarity of intention. However, an intention has little practical value. To have a real decision, we must act. Thus, commitment to action must be an integral part of the decision.
A good decision requires quality in each of these. This chapter ...