How Five Minutes can Improve Every Decision

In a prior article we looked at how too much trust is a costly problem, especially in buying decisions. I promised to provide some ideas about how you can add process to trust.

We’ll start with something easy.

As a former management consultant, I’m tempted to call this documenting the process, creating an audit trail, or socializing the decision. But let’s just call it “writing it down.”

Write it Down, Pass it Around

Here’s the tip: when you make a decision, put it on paper or in an email and share it with others. This is great for buying decisions, but also works for just about anything else.


Is this really a tip?

Yes, the tip I am offering is “write it down.” Does that seem too simple?

Here’s why you may need to hear it, and heed it. I talk to companies daily about how they spend money. When I ask how they chose a given vendor or why they made a purchase, the answers are often foggy.

“Gosh, I think Bob chose them.”

“Not sure… we’ve been using them a while.”

“I seem to remember they had a good price.”

(That last comment reminds me of the churchgoer who slept during the service, and then greeted the pastor on the way out saying, “Thanks for the great sermon. I liked the part about God.”)

If you look at the buying decisions you’ve made in the last year – personally and at the office – would you be able to discern how you made those decisions?

More than a Record

But writing it down is not just for posterity’s sake. It will help you make better decisions.

If you are on the right path, you’ll have more confidence after you write it down. If your decision is wobbly or worse, you may need to do some more thinking before you share it with the world. Or better yet, you might use the email not to announce a decision, but to confirm it and improve it.

Bonus: Quicker & Better Decisions

Let’s say you are still deciding between option A and option B. Do this, and it will almost certainly become more clear:

  1. Open up two new two emails and address them both to Yourself.
  2. In the first email, explain that you have chosen option A, and list two or three bullet points about why you did so.
  3. In the second email, do the same for option B.
  4. Click “send” on A, and on B
  5. Wait a few hours, preferably until after you’ve left the office and had a meal.
  6. Read both emails

Which one is most convincing?

Adding Process to Trust

Let’s go back to those consulting-ese phrases: documentation, socializing the decision, creating an audit trail. You could view those actions as distrustful… implying that the people making the decisions needed help or oversight.

But it’s easier to trust when decisions are strengthened by process.

Trust + Process = Better Decisions (and more trust!)

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