Decision Tree

Good decisions come from experience and experience comes from bad decisions.

Is there a difference between a bad decision and a wrong decision? We say YES!

Bad decision - When you don’t go through the right process and get all of the information you need.


Wrong decision - When you go through the process and get all the information and it doesn’t end well.

The following is evident, there are good resources to dive deeper into how to make decisions. Again, good decisions come from experience, and you can gain experience through research of decisions.

Characteristics of Good Decisions

  • Positively impact others: seems obvious but people make bad decisions that negatively impact others all the time.
  • Include others: arriving at a good decision is a process; a process that ensures everyone knows who is accountable and who has authority.
  • Fosters opportunity: empowers someone to act.
  • Are executable:  has to be clear enough to everyone.  Cannot be any ambiguity as to who or what happens next.
  • Pragmatic: minimize emotion.  What are the criteria for making the decision?  What are you trying to accomplish?
  • Accountable: it is clear who is accountable.
  • Systematic: taking the time to establish clear requirements as to what the goal is and what the criteria are.
  • Self-awareness: are you qualified to make the decision?

So what steps should we take to make a good decision?

  1. Identify the decision to be made and the outcome you want.
  2. Do your homework.  Gather as many facts as you can to assess your options.
  3. Determine your options.  Are the options compatible with our values and abilities?
  4. Weigh the possible outcomes.  What’s the worst that can happen?  What will happen if I do A, B or C?
  5. Make a list of pros and cons.  Which are most important?
  6. Solicit opinions and get feedback from someone who has dealt with this before.
  7. Monitor results after you’ve made the decision to see if you are getting the results you wanted.

Nature gives us a simple analogy to follow...

Tree analogy for decision making

Leaf Decisions - Make the decision. Act on it. Do not report the action you took.
Branch Decisions - Make the decision. Act on it. Report the action you took.
Trunk Decisions - Make the decision.  Discuss your decision with your boss before you take action.
Root Decisions - Make the decision jointly, with input from many people.  These are the decisions that, if poorly made and implemented, could cause harm to the organization.

The analogy of root, trunk, branch and leaf decisions indicates the degree of potential harm or good to the organization as action is taken at each level.  A trunk decision isn’t necessarily more important than a leaf decision but if you unwittingly yank a leaf off a tree, the tree won’t die.


In conclusion, it seems there needs to be bad decisions, but more than that there need to be wrong decisions made, even the act of not making a decision, is still a decision in and of itself.

I end this with a good quote from a leader of a major corporation-

“I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.” - Steve Jobs