Journey of a Serial Entrepreneur

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How to get from where you are to where you want to be

5 Steps on How to Make a Decision

“When you cannot make up your mind which of two evenly balanced courses of action you should take – choose the bolder.” William Joseph Slim

Over the course of this last week I have talked about the decision making process. This process can help us in making difficult decisions. The process forces us to take action and to move from one step to the next in a continuous flow. Standing still has to be avoided at all times. From a business perspective, not being able to make critical decisions or to keep delaying them, will eventually lose you any competitive advantage you may have had. The world unfortunately does not wait for us to find the right time or right opportunity to make a decision. Listed below is a methodology I use for decision making:

1. Objective Clarification: The first step when making a decision is to look at the larger picture. Decision making is not an isolated process of just meeting specific needs, it is one in which broader goals and aims have to be taken into consideration for the future. It is only after clarifying what we hope to gain or learn from the decision we take, do we move to the next step. To learn more on how to clarify objectives behind a decision please click here.

2. Data Collection: The second step involves getting all the facts and figures required to make a decision. This could include, research, surveys, feedbacks or any other form of data collection which would provide us with information to help make a decision. The truth is, it is not possible to have all the facts and figures specially in a time bound situation. Life is about making optimal choices based on, often incomplete information. One must not let lack of data hinder us from making decisions. To learn more about data collection please click here.

3. Listing Options: Once we have adequate data about decisions we have to make, the next step in the process is to develop a list of alternatives. The purpose of this list is to put down on paper different options available.There will always be several possible alternatives available when one has to make a decision.Making an endless list of possible alternatives is not wise, and frankly, will waste a lot of time. Be specific in what you want and develop your alternative list accordingly. To learn more about developing an option list please click here.

4. Evaluating Options: I use a simple model which helps rank options according to our objectives and weight-ages given to specific factors. This enables us to rank each option in an unbiased manner and helps to gauge how they compare against each other on a holistic level. This model is developed on the basis of the prior 3 steps discussed. To learn more about the model and how to use it for your decision making process please click here.

5. Making a Decision: After successfully completing the four steps outlined above, we reach a point where we should have enough information to make a decision. Most of the time, we will not have all the information required, life is all about making optimal choices based on incomplete information. We should not let this affect our decision making process. Once a decision has been made, one needs to take responsibility for it and ensure follow through. To learn more about the final step in the decision making process please click here.

If one were to look back at life, there are bound to be decisions which, in retrospect were not the correct one. The important thing to remember is not the fact that one made a wrong choice, but whether we learned from the mistake or not. We should not let past failures inhibit us from making similar decisions in the future. If one were to take such an approach,  very little progress forward would be made. As mentioned earlier, life is short, we need to have the courage of our decisions, confidence to trust our gut instincts, and keep moving forward. I wish you all the very best on all your life decisions in the future.

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Can you make a decision?

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” Theodore Roosevelt

After weighing all possible alternatives, a decision making point is reached. This stage in the decision making process is where many individuals face problems. Some of the reasons I come across quite regularly for this are; there is inadequate information, I have received mixed reviews from feedback which has further confused me, I want to put this decision off for a while to think about it more, I cannot make this decision alone and, what if I make the wrong decision? These are all valid reasons to put off making a decision. However, if this becomes a recurring pattern in life, then, very little progress would be made when a difficult problem arose. 

Once our homework is done, and we believe we have adequate information about the decision at hand, we have to take a leap of faith. Waiting for the perfect situation, the perfect business opportunity or the perfect partner will invariably hold you back. We have to be proactive and want to move forward, this not only increases confidence, it provides invaluable experience and feedback. It is in moments of decision that we find out who we really are, and what we are made of. Use these opportunities to showcase your skills and abilities rather than shying away from taking responsibility. 

Once a decision is made, the next most important aspect of this entire process is, follow through. We have to be a 100% committed to the decision we make, and take full responsibility for it. This is not a time for excuses or getting cold feet. We must prove to ourselves, as to those affected by the decision that we have what it takes to execute the decision. If one makes a habit of changing one’s minds after taking a decision, this reflects poorly on character and value systems. In business, such a person would be deemed unreliable, and lacking the confidence required to take responsibility. Hence, next time you are put in a position to make a decision, do your homework well ,and when ready, make the decision and follow through. As an added benefit, the feeling one experiences after making a correct decision is amazing, and should be the end goal every time!

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Ranking your Options

“Choice of aim is clearly a matter of clarification of values, especially on the choice between possible options.” W. Edwards Deming

 Once we have developed a list of alternatives, the next step in the decision making process is to rank them. The ranking process requires basic elements to keep it simple, yet effective. The first element required is developing a criterion list to assess all your possible alternatives against. Listed below, you see an example alternatives list I have created for the laptop example I mentioned yesterday. For this example I singled out what I felt were the most important factors. The same example can be adjusted for just about any decision. Whether you are assessing a new car, business idea, partner, employee or a potential investment opportunity. Develop a list of criterions against which you can assess all the available alternatives. It is important to rank all the alternatives against chosen criterions. 

The next element that is required is, assigning weight ages according to your preferences. I used a 10 point scale for this example, however, there are other ranking scales, and I have personally used a 100 point scale as well. This depends entirely on the complexity of the decision, and the number of criterions being used to assess each alternative. The next aspect is to assign specific scores to each option, based on the criterion. I have used a 5 point scale for the assessment in the example below, 5 meaning, very satisfied and vice versa. After you grade each criterion, multiply the scale score with the assigned weight-ages. Finally, add each options total score, and you have a decision based on resulting total scores for each alternative.

Laptop Rankings

A further complexity to the model above,  particularly when making business decisions, is to add a risk component. I left this component out of the above example to make it easier to understand. Adding a risk component can help you weigh the risk-reward ratio of each alternative. This has been very helpful to me when assessing different business opportunities. The model described above, brings together all the factors we have spoken about in the last couple of days. It is important to understand the logic behind each of the components, and the manner we arrived at this stage. Once we have a total score, we are ready to move to the last stage of the decision making process.

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Developing Alternatives

“The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously.” Henry Kissinger

Once we have adequate data about decisions we have to make, the next step in the process is to develop a list of alternatives. The purpose of this list is to put down on paper, the different options available. The purpose of this exercise is to write down all the options floating in one’s head and translate them into a tangible option. This helps put perspective on the decision at hand by giving an overview of the options available. Many individuals like to write down as many possible alternatives as possible at this time. I think this complicates the decision unnecessarily.

The point of adding structure to your decision making process is to streamline it and make it more efficient. When we don’t do this, decisions take longer because of the incessant processing going on in your head. This ends up not only confusing an individual, but also significantly prolongs the time it takes to reach a decision. Therefore, when you develop a list of possible alternatives, only jot down those you are seriously considering and which fit the larger objective behind the decision process. For example lets say you want to buy a new laptop. You have been to the stores, got all the brochures and now sit down to make a list. If your list contains 20 possible laptops you are interested in, the decision will take forever to make. I had to make this decision a couple of months ago. I needed a laptop which was aesthetically pleasing and highly portable. I took a look at a couple of alternatives, the choice came down to a Sony or an Apple, I then made  a decision and settled on the Apple.

I think many of us make the decision making process a lot more complicated than it actually needs to be. There will always be many possible alternatives available when one has to make a decision, like choosing a college, a car, a computer or a mobile phone. Making an endless list of possible alternatives is not wise, and frankly, will waste a lot of time. Be specific in what you want and develop your alternative list accordingly. If for some reason one cannot find enough alternatives or an alternative that fits your criteria, it is possible to delay making the decision. However one should not use this as an excuse to be complacent or avoid making a decision. Once we have our list of alternatives ready, we can move to the next step of the process. 

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Getting your facts right

“Trust your hunches…Hunches are usually based on facts filed away just below the conscious level.” Dr. Joyce Brothers

Carl Jung did the foundational research behind the very popular MBTi personality type test. One of the capabilities of the test is to assess the manner in which we process information and reach decisions. On one extreme of the scale, you find individuals who require all the facts and figures to help them make a logically correct choice. On the other hand of the scale, you have individuals who trust their intuition, and tend to make what may be perceived as more emotional decisions. I happen to be one who trusts intuition a lot more than depending on facts and figures. There have been times this decision making process has got me into trouble, however, the times that things have worked out in my favor outweigh them. What it comes down to is personality type, and our values and belief system. One needs to be comfortable with whichever path one chooses to take.

The truth is, it is not possible to have all the facts and figures specially in a time bound situation. Life is about making optimal choices based on the often incomplete information. One must not let lack of data hinder us from making decisions. If one finds oneself delaying making difficult decisions or finding ways to avoid making such decisions, we need to ask ourselves the cause of such behavior. Confronting this head on will help enable us to progress in life. Life is too short to run away from making decisions which need to be made. We need to have the courage and confidence to trust our instincts and if we make a mistake, to learn from it. A conscious decision needs to be made about actually living life rather than just spectating it from the sidelines.

When in doubt or with little information to base a decision, consult others who may help guide you. This helps get a different perspective on the matter and may make it easier to make a decision. I have spoken about mentors in great detail, and how they have consistently helped me in decision making relating to both my life and business. Sometimes it just takes that little bit of re-affirmation, and at others, it may require a radical point of view. Either way, if we do not ask others for feedback and advice, we are not allowing ourselves to grow as individuals. Once you have your facts, figures and gut feeling, it is time to move to the next step of the decision making process.

Related Articles:

– How do you process information?

– How do you make a decision?

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5 Steps to Understanding Psychometrics

“Only those who respect the personality of others can be of real use to them.” Albert Schweitzer

Psychometrics is a field of study concerned with the theory and technique of educational and psychological measurement of knowledge, abilities, attitudes, and personality traits. It is a complex science through which we are able to quantify preferences in an objective and precise manner. This tool has a wide range of applications ranging from team building to benchmarking the personality of a candidate against  particular organizational cultures and environments. It also has a host of benefits which can be realized at both  personal and organizational levels. Outlined below are five steps to make your understanding of the instrument simpler.

1. Fundamentals: At the core of psychometrics lies complex research which revolves around a few main concepts. Reliability, which measures the consistency of the instrument Validity, which measure the characteristics, which it claims to measure. Standardization, which sets up protocols for conducting the test. To learn more about the fundamental of psychometrics please click here.

2. Types of test: Psychometric tests fall into three main categories. The first category measures personality & values of the candidate, this encompasses behavior, drivers and feelings, to name a few. The second category measures aptitude & ability which provides a gauge for the cognitive ability of the candidate. The last category is used for development & guidance used in team building, counseling and personal development. To learn more about different types of test please click here.

3. Personal benefits: Psychometric tests can be great stepping stones to accelerate the process of learning more about yourself. They can be particularly useful in identifying areas of  strengths, personal drivers and your own personal work based preferences. When used correctly under the guidance of a trained consultant you will be able to realize the benefits of this tool more effectively. To learn more about how you could benefit from psychometrics please click here.

4. Organizational benefits: Psychometrics is being integrated increasingly into organizations worldwide. With the increasing level of competition, reliance on productivity and ever growing demands of shareholders, organizations have integrated psychometrics to place individuals accurately, build stronger teams, specifically aiming to reduce the rate of attrition, which is a major issue in the corporate world today. To learn more about how your organization can benefit from psychometrics please click here.

5. Ethics: Psychometrics involves a collection of personal and private information. This information must be used in a manner which builds trust with those taking part in these assessments. A high level of confidentiality needs to be maintained, equal opportunities should given to all and the data from the assessments must be used and shared with the consent of the candidate. To learn more about ethical conduct in the world of psychometrics please click here.

Psychometrics provides a powerful medium to harness individual energy and that of the organization . When highly reliable and valid assessments are used under the supervision of trained consultants, maximum benefit will be derived. The results and reports provided at the end of assessment, can only do as much as you want to do with them. They provide starting steps which need to be taken further to realize any substantial gains. If anyone has questions regarding this subject, I will be more than happy to answer them for you.

* Our organization conducts private and public workshops on “Integrating Psychometrics At Your Organization.” Please contact us if you are interested in learning more about this program at enquire(at)innovogs(dot)com

 

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Ethics and Testing

“Ethics is not definable, is not implementable, because it is not conscious; it involves not only our thinking, but also our feeling.” Valdemar W Setzer

Ethics and integrity formulate basic tenets for achieving a balanced, successful and happy life. Without them, we find ourselves on shaky grounds in life, akin to being without a moral compass to direct us. These principles also apply to the realm of testing, particularly to psychometric testing. This is due primarily to the fact that testing of candidates personality types and cognitive abilities involves sensitive information , in the wrong hands or if used with ill intent it can have extremely damaging implications. I have listed a few guidelines on ethical conduct and psychometrics below.

1. Confidentiality: When a candidate completes his/her test ,the reports of the test must be strictly viewed by authorized personnel only. These reports must not be shared with any third party without the consent of the candidate. Strict measures must be taken to control access to these reports and documents. Once a level of trust has been broken with a candidate salvaging the trust factor of this relationship is a difficult task and one which will severely impact the reputation of your organization.

2. Equal opportunity: At InnovoGS, it is our policy to work positively to reduce inequality with all current employees & potential employees, by ensuring that they are treated equitably, fairly, without discrimination and with dignity and respect, regardless of their age, gender, race, sexuality, disability, religion or belief. This helps in creating a level of trust and comfort with candidates, and eliminates any biases which could impact the assessments. 

3. Data usage: Large amounts of valuable data is collected when psychometric assessments are carried out. If you have a requirement to use this data for research purposes, you need to ensure that you take permission from the candidates on whether their data can be included anonymously as part of the research. It is absolutely essential that you take a transparent position when using psychometrics generated data to ensure the candidate that your intentions are clear.

Psychometrics is a very powerful tool which can be used both positively and negatively. It is the responsibility of the provider to ensure that they have integrated high levels of ethics and integrity into the evaluation process. Unfortunately psychometrics has multiple stigmas attached to it due to the fact that some providers have not been very transparent in their analysis, an aspect that continuously raises a level of suspicion. If you are looking into using psychometrics at your organization or planning on starting a business in this field, please ensure that ethics and integrity are tightly embedded into your corporate culture.

 

 

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