3 Steps to a Successful Decision

How can you make better decisions? The Public Speaker talks to Harvard Business professor Francesca Gino about the elements of successful decision-making.

Lisa B. Marshall
2-minute read

What is the difference between the words “could” and “should”?

Last week I spoke with Francesca Gino, Harvard Business Professor and author of Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed, and How We Can Stick to the Plan. According to Francesca, the language we use when we’re making decisions is important.

We often ask ourselves “What should I do?”

This way of looking at our choices is limiting. It assumes there’s a right choice and wrong choice.

Instead, ask yourself “What could I do?”

Now the possibilities are virtually limitless. “What could I do” is a catalyst for creative thinking, while “What should I do” derails creativity.

Francesca’s advice made a lot of sense, so I asked her for her top 3 tips for moving from ordinary to extraordinary decision-making.  Here’s what she shared with me:

  1. Recognize that we’re all human.  This requires both awareness and humility. A student once came to her after a lecture. He thanked her and said he now understood why his colleagues make such poor decisions.  Humility means understanding that we make mistakes too and knowing when we’ve done so.

  2. Develop plans for the future that counteract the forces that have derailed us in the past. As you move forward, watch for the obstacles you’ve encountered before avoid them.

  3. Reflect on your progress. This is especially important after you’ve made a big decision. Take the time to stop and check on your success and make adjustments if you’ve been side tracked.

Decision-making involves so much more than simply making a right or wrong choice. If you want to learn more, listen to my interview with Francesca Gino.

This is Lisa B. Marshall, Passionate about communication; your success is my business. If you want even more success in your life, I invite you to read my latest book, Smart Talk and listen to my other podcast, Smart Talk:  Inspiring Conversations with Exceptional People.

About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.