Reduce Decision Anxiety

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Amazon.com  offers more than 25 million book titles. Baskin Robbins used to boast 31 flavors, then they sold 100. Cold Stone Creamery claims 11.5 million ways to have “your” ice cream. Starbucks has identified 87,000 drink combinations.

These appeals to personalization may work well in marketing consumer goods. But, the vast range of variation can also overwhelm. Do you, your colleagues or teams ever feel swamped?

The volume of data and options involved in efforts to create strategies, generate forecasts, prepare communications, support evaluation or other common functions makes getting to decisions tough sledding. Research has shown too many choices generates significant anxiety. In fact, it creates pressure, frustration, and paralysis.

Coping With  Volume

Creating an environment for success means support for decision-making. Coping with information overload is an important responsibility for managing and leading. To start, ask these questions:

  • What are the priorities this decision must satisfy?
  • What can I do to simplify the information I have and need?
  • What are the patterns in data?
  • How might the data be categorized?

When faced with complexity, try these three actions:

  • At the start, reduce the total number of alternatives
  • Identify, understand and explain variation among alternatives
  • Engage expert review and recommendations to offer perspective

These questions and actions help focus the “infolanche” we face in our work.  Help your team  manage frustration and make great choices.

Lisa Wyatt, Ed.D. is chief strategy officer and partner in Phillips Wyatt Knowlton, Inc. PWK is a performance management resource for systems and social change with clients worldwide. Lisa has cross-sector and international experience. She is an author and W.K. Kellogg Leadership Fellow. See: www.pwkinc.com

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