Download your Decision-making Persona here.
We all have our own preferences and methods when it comes to making decisions, whether we’re aware of them or not. Sometimes these serve us well, and we feel content with the path we’ve chosen. Other times they can trip us up, leading to wasted time, poor courses of action and ultimately regret.
Some of the world’s greatest psychologists have made it their career mission to understand exactly how we make decisions, and what the most optimum way to do so is. But… none have them have completely cracked it.
What they have worked out is that our decision making style varies on key dimensions, and each variation has its strengths and drawbacks. Knowing your own tendencies can help you play to the strengths of your decision making approach and, more importantly, check yourself when it might lead to a less than optimum choice.
To find out more about your decision making style, complete the self-assessment below by placing a tick next to the statement which best describes you. Once you’ve ticked all rows, add up the total number of ticks in each column and write your totals in the space at the end.
Remember – each preference and the resulting style only gives an indication of how you approach decision-making. No one style is ‘better’ than the other, so be honest and see where your answers take you.
What do the scales mean?
INTUITIVE/RATIONAL What information you place most value on. The way you think about a decision, what information you use, what you rely on to give you confidence. The more intuitive you are, the more you think with your heart, basing decisions on feelings and gut instinct. The more rational you are, the more you think with your head, basing decisions on facts and data.
MAXIMISING/SATISFICING The method you use to make decisions. How much time and effort you put in, what process you use, what you need to have done to be able to move forward. A satisficing approach involves setting a few criteria, and then picking the first option that meets your needs. Speed-to-value is the priority. A maximising approach involves spending more time comparing options, until you feel content with making a choice. Accuracy is the priority.
To understand your decision making persona, follow the instructions below:
1. Transfer your totals into the table.
2. Use your higher score in the Intuitive/Rational section to plot where you fall on the vertical axis.
3. Next use your higher score from the Maximising/Satisficing section to plot where you fall on the horizontal axis.
4. The intersection of those two points will indicate which quadrant you fall into.
5. Remember, there’s no right or wrong – this is just a way of understanding your preferences.
6. Once you’ve identified your decision making persona, jump to the debrief slide to learn more.
Your decision-making style: REFLECTIVE
People with this style are future thinking, big-picture aware and deliberate. They spend a lot of time contemplating – feeling out options before making their decision.
They’re less concerned by facts and data and more with other perspectives. They spend time talking through important decisions with others, and when making group decisions they’re compelled to fully understand all viewpoints and opinions before making a call.
Decision-making strength: With others involved, consensus-building and ensuring everyone is heard. On their own, seeking out lots of viewpoints and opinions of others which often tell a lot more than facts and stats.
Decision-making drawbacks: Can need a lot of assurance before making big decisions. Sensitive to ‘decision regret’, so can often dwell on decisions even after they’re made.
Decision-making motto: “Only fools rush in”
Potential for conflict: Their appreciation for other’s needs is sometimes at odds with the pragmatic, who is generally less willing to concede to issues of consensus.
Decision-making nightmare: Your boss unexpectedly asks you to prepare a presentation for an important meeting tomorrow. Everyone else is busy so you have to go it alone, and you’re under time pressure.
Decision-making dream: Planning a big get together with friends. You can get right into the detail of researching hotels, restaurants and bars, taking everyone’s needs and desires into account to create a truly unforgettable experience.
Your decision-making style: THOROUGH
Like a scientist, these individuals are methodological, logical and data driven. They take time to research and analyse large amounts of information to reach well informed and evidence-based conclusions.
Their great attention to detail means that no possibility or scenario gets left unexamined. Ask them how they came to a decision and they’ll gladly present you with hard facts, data and evidence to back it up.
Decision-making strength: Their ability to take into account many variables means you can rely on them for complex, critical decisions. They build compelling cases for the options they choose, and are unlikely to make important calls without proper deliberation.
Decision-making drawbacks: Their knack for fully dissecting the problem means decisions take them time. They will feel uncomfortable making decisions quickly, even when it’s critical to do so.
Decision-making motto: “The right answer is always out there – find it!”
Potential for conflict: Their high regard for facts and data can conflict with the methods of the instinctive style, who follows their nose.
Decision-making nightmare: Difficult stakeholders. You’ve shared your rationale and proposed course of action but they just shake their heads and say they don’t agree. They struggle so say exactly why they’re not onboard. What do you do next?
Decision-making dream: Buying a new car. With all the information you need at your fingertips, you can spend all the time you like creating spreadsheets and comparing prices, models and mileage.
Your decision-making style: PRAGMATIC
Efficient, analytical and shrewd, these individuals don’t hesitate. They can quickly work out what’s most important and find the best option to fit the biggest needs.
Their pragmatism means they quickly adapt to new variables and don’t get too attached to their ideas if another comes along. Once they’ve made their decision, they’re quick to put it into motion and don’t waste time dwelling on what could be or could have been.
Decision-making strength: Their practical outlook means they’re great at making daily decisions without hesitation. Their awareness of how they make decisions means they can quickly get others on board too.
Decision-making tripwire: Though they’re decisive and efficient, sometimes they can lack big picture of future focus. They simplify issues by focusing on what’s most important now, but often as the expense of what could change or they could learn over time.
Decision-making motto: “Focus on what really matters. Forget the rest”
Potential for conflict: Their focus on efficiency and putting things into motion means they may struggle with a reflective style’s need for assurance.
Decision-making nightmare: Colleagues losing their cool. No decision can solve everyone’s needs all the time, so you get frustrated when others can’t turn to action mode quickly.
Decision-making dream: An agile sprint project. As long as you’re clear on what needs to be done, you can organize and prioritize with ease.
Your decision-making style: INSTINCTIVE
People with this style have strong instincts and trust these and what they’ve learnt from past experience to know what to do next. Whilst others are busy navel gazing and admiring the challenges they face, these people are quickly finding their way to a solution that’s good enough.
Their strong sense of right and wrong and intuitive nature gives them a lot of confidence in their decisions.
Decision-making strengths: These people are great to have around when decisions need to be made quickly, and it’s not obvious how to start the process. They’re able to quickly filter through information and options and pick out a few to work with.
Decision-making drawbacks: Their reliance on instinct and anecdotal experience can sometimes mean they miss potentially vital information. Now and again they’ll need to ensure they spend more time contemplating the detail.
Decision-making motto: “Trust your gut if you want to make a decision fast!”
Potential for conflict: Their tendency to sense their preferred option quickly can cause frustration for those with a Thorough style, who typically spends more time deliberating.
Decision-making nightmare: Being put onto a complex, long-term project involving lots of opinion seeking and consensus building. “We know what we need to do, why not just do it?!”
Decision-making dream: Designing a new home. There are endless decisions – which tiles for the bathroom, the kitchen color, where that lamp should go. But you quickly feel your way through the options and only spend worrying about what really matters.
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