Balance on the High Wire – Part II: Decision Making

by Ron Potter

The world is becoming a very fast paced environment. With each step of increased travel velocity, the world has become more interconnected than ever. With the advent of the internet and pipeline speed that velocity has become almost infinite in nature. It seems like a Niagara amount of information, data and connectivity are swirling around us every moment of every day. With each passing day, it becomes more difficult for us to maintain our balance. Without balance, bad things happen.

Over the last couple of blogs (Check out Balancing Act and High Wire), I’ve noted that Balance is the key ingredient of great decision-making, health, and happiness (human needs). Today let’s explore decision-making.

Myers-Briggs teaches us that human decision-making is a two-stage process of taking in information (Perceiving) and then making our decisions based on that perception. It has been my experience through 25+ years of team building and leadership development that we must keep those processes in balance.

My data is rather old (meaning more than a day at this point) but the last I remember seeing is that we create over 50,000 GB of data per second. I’ll let you look up what the size of that number really means.

The human mind can’t come anywhere near absorbing that much data (or even a fraction) every day to use in our decision-making processes. So, the mind needs to use shortcuts, models, and tricks to help us survive and make everyday decisions in our daily lives. Each of us uses a different method of taking in data related to a decision that we’re making. The two key areas that Myers-Briggs describes are:

  • Sensing
    • Facts
    • Details
    • Data
    • What do we know in the present?
    • What have we done so far?
    • What are the next steps?
  • Intuition
    • Bigger picture
    • Future
    • Implications
    • Where are we trying to go in the future?
    • What will the possibilities be?
    • What is the ultimate goal?

As you look at the written list you would likely agree that we need all that information in order to make a good, well-informed decision. The problem is that in our every day lives, our brain tends to focus on and give greater priority to either Sensing or Intuition. It takes a team and a good process to maintain a healthy balance. Without balance you’ll tend to be either too short-term or long-term focused. If this function isn’t balanced it can cause the business to fail.

Once the perceiving function is completed (and hopefully balanced) our “deciding” function kicks-in. Myers-Briggs identifies these as our Thinking and Feeling functions. A better way to think of these is logic and values. All too often in the business world, “feelings” are discounted as being too emotional. Decisions should be made on logic. But values are important to every organization. When values are violated, the culture begins to crumble, and the organization loses a sense of being. Logic and value must be balanced.

Just like on the high wire, goals cannot be met, and trust cannot be build when we lose our balance.

Balance, Balance, Balance.

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