Make Better Decisions in 2 Steps


How do you make important decisions? Do you ‘go with your gut’? Research shows that by itself, this approach often leads to regret and failure. But take heart! There is a better way.


Let’s say your friendship with your Little feels stale. You always do the same things, or don’t feel they’re growing in meaningful ways. What would you do?

Or perhaps you are struggling to have good communication with a parent, or your Mentoring Specialist. Do you talk to them? Hope things improve on their own? Leave your match? Soldier through, but painfully?


Read this short article from researcher Stanley Johnson; the CliffNotes version is this:

  1. Diversify the people helping make the decision,
  2. Do a “premortem”: imagine it’s months in the future, and your approach/plan has failed. Explain what happened.


Diversify Decision-Influencers
For example, let’s explore the 1st scenario above, your friendship with your Little feels cold/stagnant/lacking fulfillment. If you just try to decide how to proceed on your own… well, it’s hard to diversify your own thinking. Could you talk through this with your Little? That’s a little better. What about seeking insight from your Little and your Mentoring Specialist both? Better. How about your Little, Mentoring Specialist, and their parent/guardian? Better still. How about inviting input from all those people… and a loved one who knows you well and what inspires/motivates you? Now that is some serious diversification!


Do the Pre-Mortem
Let’s say after consulting all these parties you decide to help your Little pick a goal that’s meaningful to them, so you can support their growth, beyond just having fun together. Flash forward 4 months. The goal is unmet; there’s even been very little effort put forth towards it. You feel frustrated and full of self-doubt, and resentment/guilt around those involved in the consulting process. What happened??


Maybe you nudged your Little towards a goal you thought was important, but didn’t mean much to them. Maybe they did decide on their own goal, but there was too little attention paid to the specific strategies involved, when/how progress checks would occur, or what would happen if progress benchmarks were/weren’t being met. By providing as detailed of a premortem as possible, you shrink the negative effects of confirmation bias and groupthink bias, and make better decisions.


Do you face a decision that could benefit from more diverse perspectives? And/or from conducting a pre-mortem? Talk with your Mentoring Specialist! Thank you for sharing your perspectives during our check-in chats, and helping us diversify our thinking, about how to best support young people.

Happy New Year,

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Johnson County


Follow Big Brothers Big Sisters of Johnson County on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube, for more mentoring tips, and to help grow our audience so we can find more great mentors like you to help local young people. Thank you!!

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