How Great Decisions Get Made – Day One

Part of my capstone exercise of my actuarial studies is going through the Decision Making and Communication (DMAC) module. Decision making is a topic that isn’t really talked about but the more I learn about it the more I find it interesting and by and large an unpracticed skill. From reading Annie Duke’s book, “Thinking in Bets”, I was introduced to the idea of resulting. This is a very important concept of separating the decision from the result. Many people look at the result and base the effectiveness of the decision on the result. But is this the way we should do it? Pete Carroll’s decision to throw it at the 1-yard line on 2nd down in Superbowl XLIX. Good or bad decision? Running through a red light, with cars whizzing by, but making it out unscathed. Good or bad decision?

This segment of the DMAC module involves Don Maruska’s book, “How Great Decisions Get Made: 10 Easy Steps for Reaching Agreement on Even the Toughest Issues” (I’ll put a link to the book down below), and I figured I’d outline it and express my takeaways as I’m going through it. They do say one must practice effective communication just like any other skill, so if any of this is not clear let me know.


  • Go from asking, “what’s wrong and how can we fix it?”, to asking, “what’s possible and who cares?”
  • People who feel listened to become good listeners


  • Most group members operate out of fear
    • Fear creates scarcity
  • Need to work out of HOPE not fear
    • Enables teams to work smart and support one another
  • Ask “how can we achieve what we really want?” instead of “what should we do?”
  • Expectations have nothing to do with what you truly desire
  • In order to move ahead, we need to determine what we really want, what’s truly important
  • Articulating your hopes is the first step to living them
  • Be an agent of HOPE

Part 1: Making Great Decisions

Fear Undermines Decision Making

  • Once fear takes hold, all decision making becomes difficult
    • I have been experiencing this lately. I have been afraid with how our government is reacting with all this stimulus and I feel like I’ve been stagnant on making certain decisions (purchasing more real estate in certain cities/states for example)

The Legacy of Fear

  • Operating out of fear often does have short term benefits, hence why some managers utilize that tactic, but this often comes at a long term cost.
    • Think of the manager who makes his employees scared that they wouldn’t be able to get a job elsewhere

Fears Provoke Decision Making Problems

  • Participants lose sight of what they really want
  • Participants focus on their own slice of the pie and how big it is relative to everyone else’s rather than figuring out how to make the pie bigger for the benefit of all.

Hopes Stimulate Great Results

  • “Pursuing shared hopes, rather than fearful expectations, frees participants to identify and develop superior solutions.”

I will end this with a final thought that the book posed at the end of the chapter: Effective decision making is actually effective learning.

HOW GREAT DECISIONS GET MADE: How Great Decisions Get Made: 10 Easy Steps for Reaching Agreement on Even the Toughest Issues: Don Maruska, Margaret J. Wheatley: 9780814473986: Books

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