In People Skills, Team Effectiveness

Is there a difference between a decision and a choice? And does it matter anyway?

Why is it that a decision feels as if it should be based on a full situational analysis and yet a choice can be made on the basis of gut instinct?

A New Year blog from Seth Godin got me thinking. He suggests that for most of us decisions are our “product”, they are what we “make”, so we should make more of them and be more productive. He says:

“The farmer who grows corn has no illusions about what his job is. He doesn’t avoid planting corn or dissemble or procrastinate about harvesting corn. And he certainly doesn’t try to get his neighbor to grow his corn for him.

Make more decisions. That’s the only way to get better at it.”

In Titanic Lessons in Project Leadership Ranjit Sidhu says that “a leader’s role is to ensure the team has agreed … how decisions will be made.” What she goes on to say provides the clue for my decisions v. choices dilemma. Ranjit advises, “Gathering information and identifying options are critical steps toward effective decision making.”

That’s the difference then.

A choice is a personal thing, but to make good decisions, it’s essential that we involve others. We need to follow an agreed problem-solving process, gathering evidence, listening to our team and our stakeholders, identifying options and only then making the critical, but individual, choice.

So Seth is right. We need to make more decisions, but while we can’t get ‘our neighbours’ to make them for us, we should certainly listen to their views.


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