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Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Decision Making: mind or heart?

I read with interest Tanveer Naseer's guest blog by Dianna Booher entitled 'Speak to the heart to lead change'. It certainly aligns with a previous post of mine entitled 'winning hearts and minds'.

The premise of both blogs is: we shouldn't leave our heart and humanity at the front door of our office - we need to take it in with us and use it. Particularly when motivating others - ie it is our values that determine what we will and wont do, and they are determined by our heart and emotions - not our mind and thoughts. If we want to motivate and engage someone therefore, we have to engage their heart to do that, and ours too.

However the assumption I made in my blog was the decision had been made logically (ie with our mind), and therefore to get support for it we now needed to use our heart/emotions.

During an exchange on twitter about the blogs with Ian Berry I was asked to consider making decisions from the heart (for those not twitter literate the conversation runs from the bottom up).


This blog is an exploration of that challenge.

When making decisions for myself I often rely on intuition/emotions to help me - for example:
  • Do I accept this or that piece of work, 
  • Do I go on this/or that holiday 
  • Which restaurant shall I go to
  • What dress(es) shall I buy :-)
  • Determining which question to ask coaching clients, and when to push forward, and when to pull back and so on.
  • To decide which house to buy. Although I did follow a more logical process to develop the possible options 10 years ago. So yes for me logic certainly seems to play more of a part in bigger decisions - even if the final decision was made on 'does it feel right'.
Use of my heart to make decisions therefore is something I'm very familiar with - but these are decisions I make on my own.

When I make decisions with others it feels like I need the logic to back up the intuition/emotion. I wrote a blog entitled strategies need evidence to suggest the same.

As a purchasing consultant I'm often faced with stakeholders using their heart and emotions to tell me why the current supplier is the best choice. If left to hearts alone we'd get nowhere fast - with everyone involved often preferring to stay with what they're already doing, and purchasing pushing for potentially new and shiney suppliers :-).

Often my role therefore is to help stakeholders understand why their heart's choice might not be the only option. This is achieved by uncovering the reasons (business requirements) their heart wants to stay with the current supplier, and demonstrating that alternative suppliers/options are also able to meet these business needs. (Although yes of course - sometimes it's about staying with the current supplier too).

That is Procurement follow a logical process to pull together the relevant facts and data. This in turn enables us to develop a strategy that meets the business requirements and also releases value to the organisation.

There are certainly times when heart may play a part in the decision making - with criteria for selecting options, and certainly selecting suppliers, often including - do we trust them, cultural fit etc.

Decisions are also checked against what our hearts feel. With our hearts' reservations being addressed by asking more questions and gathering more data. Because unless I can provide the evidence to support a decision how will I be able to convince the senior management of the efficacy of our strategy.

In summary our intuition and emotions can play a big part in decision making. It's generally used however to guide us to find more data to support our beliefs - in those instances where these beliefs are still counter to the current facts and data. (NB the more thorough your research and analysis the less likely you are to find a mismatch at the strategy development stage - ie all the hearts concerns and reasons are out on the table and have been addressed in the analysis undertaken)

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject - in business can you easily use heart alone or does logic also play a part?

Alison

Alison Smith
Inspiring change inside and out - when what you're doing isn't working

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