November  2013     Edition 97
Criteria and faster decisions

Have you ever put too much paper into a paper shredder

, or try to cram too much food down a garbage disposal?  I'm sure you have been in countless traffic jams when multiple lanes of cars converge into fewer lanes, or when there's a rush of people trying to fit through a narrow door.  What happens?   Things get clogged and bunched up.  It stays this way until the clog is cleared or there is less volume coming into the small space.

We live in a world that bombards us with information

.  The internet provides us access to the world's knowledge base, as well as the thoughts of millions of people who post true and imaginary information.  When solving problems we can easily get overloaded with information and it comes to us so fast that we can get clogged up with information overload.  As a result, decisions can become very complicated and time consuming.

One way to minimize clogging and to speed up decision making

is to take a moment to write down the criteria that is important and makes a difference. Criteria are a list of conditions, if met, the decision is yes. This will make choices much easier because you'll have a list of things that must be met to be a choice. Distinguishing what is really important will eliminate the tremendous amount of noise out there that clogs our thinking and will result in speeding up the decision making process.

For example, let's say you want to buy a new TV

.  There are a very large number of options when looking at TV's these days, such as; price, size, resolution, internet capable, USB, HDMI, RGB, manufacturer, LED, LCD, Plasma, smart, not-smart, WiFi, touch, voice recognition, 2D, 3D, swivel, 1 year, 2 year, 3 year warranties, and many more.  You can go nuts trying to figure it all out.  Instead, write down the important criteria, i.e. your "Must haves".  Those TV's that don't meet the criteria are quickly eliminated.

Similarly in business, when faced with a decision

, be it having a conversation with your boss, deciding on including a particular feature in a product, setting a price point, or determining how much inventory to order, make a list of conditions, that if met, you'll move forward.  This is your criteria.  Thinking about this ahead of time will save a significant amount of work, and prevent the clogging that occurs with information overload.

Here's a simple way to try this

; If you have a to-do list, take a look at the list and write down the criteria you will use to move that item from your to-do list to your "done list"!   For example, let's say you have on your list to "go to doctor for yearly physical", your criteria might be, "Can go on a Tuesday morning, my kids are in school, I'm over my cold, and no business travel plans in sight for that week".  If those conditions are met, you make the appointment.  Once you get used to making a criteria list, you'll find that decision making is much easier and much faster.

The Takeaway:
  When faced with a decision, create a criteria, a checklist of conditions, if met, you will move forward.   With criteria for decision making, you'll make high quality decisions because you've taken into account the really important items, and your decisions will be faster because you're not being bogged down with information and items that don't make a difference.

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