Uncertainty and decision making

I recently discovered the Farnham Street website and something about the podcast with Annie Duke really struck a chord with me. She’s an ex-professional poker player who now gives talks on decision making. It got me thinking about how I my own decisions and how I can make better ones.

Difficult decisions are always based on missing information. If you knew an outcome was guaranteed, there isn’t really a decision to be made. I believe we should reframe how we approach discussions about complex decisions so it’s front and centre in people’s mind; we’re dealing with imperfect knowledge.

Instead of thinking of decisions (and their outcomes) in terms of good and bad, we should talk about them in the context of being better and worse. Good/bad decisions imply certainty, which is very rarely the case. Changing the conversation, so people talk about decisions as being better or worse, helps clarify in people’s minds that we’re dealing with a lack of information which will invariably result in compromise or trade offs.

The real world is full of uncertainty and our discussions should accurately reflect this reality. Peddling in certainty is dodgy business and should be left to the professionals; priests and politicians!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.