How to identify high-value decisions and improve your outcomes
4 ways to prioritize high-value decisions
Decision fatigue is real.
So, how do we combat it?
I teach you how Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Barack Obama do it, as well as 4 ways to combat it yourself.
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How to identify high-value decisions and improve your outcomes
In the early 1980s, Steve Jobs made a trip to Sony’s factory, where the company had adopted uniforms for its employees. The uniforms were adopted out of necessity because during the war workers didn’t have clothes to wear to work.
Jobs loved the unity it created and wanted to adopt the uniform at Apple.
While the idea was ultimately rejected by workers (American, where a uniform? SCOFF), Jobs ultimately adopted the idea personally.
To this day, he is known for his uniform of black turtleneck, Levi 501 jeans, and white sneakers.
This concept has become more popular over the years, with the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Barack Obama adopting it as well.
For these two, their reasoning was simple: it reduced the number of decisions they had to make each day.
They were attempting to reduce what we know as decision fatigue.
The average person makes 35,000 decisions in a day. As you get further and further into the day, the number of decisions we’ve made start deplete our energy.
As energy depletes, decisions become less than ideal. This is decision fatigue.
There are many frameworks for combating this, with Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Barack Obama deploying one of them.
They’re trying to reduce the small decisions… what they wear, eat, etc. so that they can put more energy to the bigger ones.
Jeff Bezos deployed the Regret Minimization Framework, where he simply asks “In X years, will I regret not doing this?”
Others use more complicated models.
The whole point is to limit low-value decisions so you can put your focus on the high-value decisions in your day.
What is a high-value decision?
When we get buried in work, we can’t give the high-value decisions the attention they deserve.
By focusing on high-value decisions, we are able to increase the outcomes in our business by giving them the proper time they deserve.
Some decisions may be high value if they meet one of these criteria. Others may need to meet more than one. That’s for you to decide.
Let’s dig in.
It has an outsized impact on the bottom line
The bottom line is profit or cash flow. If a decision is more than 20% of your current profit/cash flow, it can fundamentally change your business.
But, opportunities can be too big. While it may seem great, an opportunity that big can also take the other 80% down.
Be careful to evaluate the likelihood of the opportunity as well as the risks.
It has an outsized impact on your people
Some opportunities require more effort than dollar benefit. But, even if the bottom line benefit is there, the people cost may be too high.
In any of these situations, it’s important to ask:
- What stress will this put on my team?
- Is my team bought into this opportunity?
- How long with this opportunity strain the team?
It has an outsized impact on future prospects
Sometimes opportunities may be small, but the relationships you build while fulfilling them is big.
I’ve seen businesses provide services to an individual to see that individual then give the business their primary contract on a billion-dollar business.
If the opportunity is small, but the future potential is big, it’s absolutely a high-value decision. That decision should be given the same focus as the one potentially impacting the bottom line by 20%.
It is high leverage
Similar to the potential future prospects, high-leverage opportunities are high-value opportunities.
High leverage means investing $10 to get back $1,000.
Prioritizing high-value decisions
Everyone is busy, but certain people seem to do a better job making big decisions. How?
Prioritize them early in your day
Remember that 35,000 decisions per day number? That’s crazy. If the big decision is number 34,000, how fresh do you think you’ll be?
Prioritize making the big decisions after sleep.
Your day gets away from you because you don’t organize it.
Email, text, pop-ins… all ruin your flow. They distract you from what really needs to get done.
Then, they schedule a last-minute meeting. Nooooo…
By time blocking, you’re protecting your time and high-value tasks.
Empower your coworkers
Too many supervisors hold onto “authority” when handing over tasks.
If you can’t trust an employee with low-value decisions, they shouldn’t work for you, period.
Delegating well is an essential part of making good high-value decisions.
Get rid of everything that’s unessential
We stink at eliminating. That individual request seems innocuous.
But add all the requests together and they’re stealing your time away from what matters.
There is no silver bullet to start making better decisions.
But, combining the right environment and reps, and over time your decision quality will improve.
And with that improvement comes an improved bottom line.
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