CTO Compass

A Leader’s Guide to Better Decision-Making

In today's world, it's easy to get caught up in the media's oversimplified, polarising stories.

However, as leaders, we must resist this thinking and encourage our teams to think critically. That’s why I’m excited to share some tips and techniques on overcoming bias and making better decisions.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore some themes that can trip us up when trying to make good choices—both at work and in our personal lives. Today, let’s dive into “narrow framing.” Once you know how to spot and tackle this bias, you’ll make smarter decisions.

What’s Narrow Framing, Anyway?

Narrow framing is when we make decisions without considering all the possibilities. We get so focused on one aspect of a situation that we miss other essential factors. And it’s often the big decisions that lead us into this bias!

I fell into this trap a few years ago when deciding whether to invest in a new software tool. At first, I thought the only options were to buy the new tool or stick with our current solution.

How to Break Free from Narrow Framing

There are several simple strategies you can apply to avoid bias:

  1. Get different perspectives. Talk to people in your organisation who have different experiences and viewpoints. They might see options you hadn’t considered.
  2. Look at the big picture: Take a step back and consider each choice’s long-term effects. What could happen down the line?
  3. Use decision-making tools: Conduct a SWOT analysis or even a simple pros and cons list.

As I’ve discussed in previous emails, having a decision-making journal helps improve your decisions over time. You can review past similar decisions and analyse how your choice affected the outcome. Use the lessons you learned to generate alternative options.

In my case, after discussing with colleagues and doing some research, I realised there were plenty of other alternatives, like finding similar products or investing in some training to better use our existing software. By expanding my options, I ultimately made a better choice that saved money and improved our team’s workflow.

Make Better Decisions Every Day

As you go about your day, try to catch yourself if you start framing situations too narrowly and use the three key strategies to expand your courses of action.

Remember, there are almost always many more options than the first few that come to mind. Narrow framing is like wearing blinders – it keeps you focused on one path, even if there’s a better route right next to you!

⚡️ Thinking Time ⚡️

Ready to put this into practice? Try this quick exercise in one of your upcoming Thinking Time sessions:

  1. Write down a significant decision you need to make soon.
  2. List all the options you can think of immediately.
  3. Now, challenge yourself to come up with at least one more option you hadn’t considered before.