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How To Make Effective Decisions

May 14th, 2014 by dimpledbrain

The most effective decision making tool that I’ve come across so far is 10-10-10 by Suzy Welch. The beauty of it lies in its simplicity (similar to the Checklist Manifesto) while ensuring we consider 2 important parameters –

(a) timeframes and (b) values

(1) What is 10-10-10

  • 10-10-10 is basically a shorthand for 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years. It means to evaluate any decision against 3 timeframes; now, later and in the future. It doesn’t have to be 10 minutes or 10 months exactly – it’s the discipline to evaluate against 3 different timeframes that matters.
  • To do a 10-10-10, just start with a question and compare the pros and cons against the 3 timeframes. One can either write them down or perform a mental 10-10-10.
  •  Although the author did not explicitly mention them, I find that (a) the ‘right’ decision is always the opposite of what we would have done under the 10 minutes scenario and (b) the 10 months scenario is often the game changer – so spending more time there makes sense
  • Checking the decision against 3 different timeframes is important to help us avoid some mental blunders. E.g. most heard advices, advices from people we like or clinging on to ‘sunk cost’ etc.

(2) How to build values in our decision making process

  • Whenever we are lost, we often behave like Alice in the Wonderland. Recall the conversation Alice had with the cat.

Cat: Where are you going?

Alice: Which way should I go?

Cat: That depends on where you are going.

Alice: I don’t know.

Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.

  • Suzy Welch called it ‘values excavation’, i.e. aligning the decision against values we hold dear in our heart.
  • I repost some high level questions from the book:
    • (a) What would make you cry at your 70th birthday? (Legacy)
    • (b) What do I want people to say about me when I’m not in the room? (Character)
    • (c) What do you love about the way your parents live and what do you hate? (Lifestyle)
  • If you say ‘I don’t know’ then remember what the Cat says – then it doesn’t matter which [decision] you make.


(1) Recommended reading: 10-10-10 by Suzy Welch

(2) The only thing that could have possibly marred the most accomplished man of the 2oth century in the west, Jack Welch, is his involvement with the author, which resulted a high drama divorce with his second wife. Throughout the process, his ‘outrageous’ severance package was revealed to the public when they (Jack Welch and his ex 2nd wife) couldn’t reach an amicable out of court settlement initially.


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