117. Making good decisions: Narrow framing
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Next up on the list of the "villains" of decision-making is narrow framing. It's basically what we do to make decisions look and feel simpler than they are. And it's a major problem!

Background music is Of the Stars by KC Roberts & the Live Revolution



Another one of the Heath Brothers’ villains of decision making is what they call “narrow framing.” Here’s my take. I always felt like the expression “don’t bring me problems; bring me solutions” was just about the stupidest thing a leader could say. First off, isn’t it a leader’s job to help to, y’know…lead people through solutions to difficult problems? Maybe more importantly, it feels like an attempt to force people to expedite a decision. What’s the easiest and most defensible way to expedite a decision? Probably to artificially frame it as a go/no-go scenario. “Are we gonna do X or not do X?” Or maybe if we’re lucky it’s a slightly more creative “are we gonna do X, or are we gonna do Y?” And in my experience, the conditions for decision-making in boardrooms are so bad that to a senior manager the idea of bringing multiple options to the board – as opposed to a done-deal ready for approval – is like a living nightmare. But what’s the point of a board? For my take, listen back to episodes 3 and 51. I don’t think any of us would answer that the point of a board is just to be an approving machine. In fact, even when managers bring go/no-go decisions to the board, they’re usually only doing it because it’s really hard to figure out how to engage the board in an efficient AND useful discussion about multiple paths or options. But the fact is that virtually every decision truly does have multiple paths or options beyond “yes” and “no”. The best way to start building better habits is to just rip off the band-aid and TRY bringing a decision to the board earlier, before management has digested it into a go/no-go binary. Give them a chance to help you narrow it down and provide varied perspectives. Whatever part of the discussion goes well, say out loud that it was good, and try to recreate those conditions again in the future. Whatever goes poorly, say THAT out loud and try to avoid those conditions in the future. Whatever you do, don’t just relapse back into your old, narrow framing habits.

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