Decisions are the human thinking process by which we create the future. The more skilled you become at managing your business, your project or your life as a network of decisions, the more you will see that a truly comprehensive decision pattern underlies all that you think and do. The decisions are there, in a sense they pre-exist your situation; you just need to frame them and make them visible to take advantage of the pattern and take proactive control of your future.
However, it’s perfectly valid to ask the question, “Where do decisions end and implementation (or design) details begin?” Or perhaps, “At what level should I stop framing the issues I face as formal decisions to attack and just begin treating them as design or implementation details or personal preferences?”
I see this primarily as a question of leverage. At what level of decision scope, complexity and priority, does a decision become so simple that framing it as a clearly defined “fundamental question that demands an answer or solution” and thinking through a few criteria (stakeholder goals) cease to improve decision speed, quality or creativity? Every individual will answer this question at a different level of decision granularity and priority, but highly-skilled thinkers will typically go deeper in the use of formal methods than those who “can’t think their way out of a paper bag”. That’s because skilled thinkers don’t use decision analysis methods with a one-size-fits-all clumsiness, but rather take experience-based shortcuts; they tailor the rigor of the analysis to match the decision’s criticality and risk.
You should also consider stakeholder buy-in; if your decision affects several other folks, then making the decision formal gives you a chance to make your logic visible to your stakeholders and enables them to participate as you think through the decision. If you skip this step and just deliver to them the answer or their implementation tasks (to realize your answer), then you risk their active or passive rejection of your brilliant idea.
Based on my experience, I think most folks would benefit if they formally framed the top 100 decisions in their business, project or life as a Decision Breakdown Structure (DBS) and then attacked these decisions using an appropriate level of scalable rigor. But I recommend that you start with your top 10 open decisions; if you do you’ll gain valuable learning cycles and become a “lean, mean, thinking machine”. Then you’ll have the good judgment and skills to get significant payback from using decision analysis techniques on smaller and less vital choices.
The Decision Driven® Solutions Framework (DDSF) lowers your entry barrier to getting started by providing a proven decision and criteria pattern for the top 200+ decisions that you may face. You don’t have to do the difficult “frame a fuzzy issue as a decision” step from scratch; just find your issue within the decision pattern and dive in! Get started with your free trial of DDSF by contacting the Decision Driven® Solutions team at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.