The Hidden Decision Maker

Aren’t many markets more competitive today? Isn’t there a need to act faster? Aren’t many time-scales shorter? Surely these all put pressure on our decision making and our need to get it right first time.

This article is about how experiences can affect our decisions without our realising it – and what we can do about it.

Whilst there is a wide range of types of experience and decision making is a big subject, let’s concentrate on just three of the things that many of us will have heard –


 “That went rather well”.

Think of a task that was new and which went well – didn’t it give you encouragement, making it seem easier to repeat or do even better? Aren’t we much more likely to make positive decisions following this?

So good experience builds confidence and can lead us forward.

Maybe this a good time to pause, take control of what is happening subconsciously, and ask ourselves questions like:

Can I be even more adventurous?

What is really possible here?

But not all our experiences are good ones though, are they? It can be challenging sometimes to bounce back after a bad one…


“I don’t ever want to go through that again”

Often followed by negative thoughts and self-doubt, this can wreck objective thinking.

Something painful or even failure can lead to frozen ideas, avoidance and seeing only one side of the picture, but…

…We can come back from a bad experience and move forward

To make sound decisions, surely we need to move forward in this way. A couple of suitable questions are:

Is this bad experience limiting my thinking?

Ignoring what’s happened, what should I be considering to get the full picture here?


“One year’s experience repeated many times”

This saying has been around for a long time. It refers to someone who has stopped developing and moving forward.

Without moving forward our ideas become frozen…

..and decision making becomes outdated and overtaken by events, just like software does… but we update the software, but not necessarily our ideas.

Maybe there are areas where things have been done in the same way for some time. So, when it’s decision time, you could ask yourself:

 Am I missing something by doing it the same old way?

What new ideas can I come up with in this situation?

By staying in questioning mode, no doubt you can come up with additional ones, appropriate to the situation.

So, experiences can give us subconscious encouragement, a one-eyed view where we don’t see the whole picture, or freeze our ideas and progress.

The point is that by asking this style of question at decision time, we can become conscious of what’s behind our thinking. This can overcome reactive thinking where we ‘know’ the answer.


So what has this all to do with recruitment?

Here are some thoughts:

Where the last person recruited was very good, must the next one have a similar personality, experience and business background?

Or if the last person disappointed, have you changed your requirements without giving it enough objective thought?

Are your ideas frozen as a result of either of these, or has the job spec been tightened up too much? For example, this can be in; experience requirements; career progress; personality; or the commute; and…

 …over-tightening the job spec can be a recruitment killer!

Do you have the relationship between experience, skills and potential in balance? It’s all too easy to overrate one at the expense of the others.

So, experiences can affect our judgement for better or worse. If we don’t question our reactions to experience then we may not end up with the best decision.


Thanks for reading this, we hope you find it beneficial. We would welcome your thoughts.

This article was written in March 2013 by Bill Paterson and the team at New Business People. If you have any requests, ideas, queries or observations, please contact us using the comments section. These are not published and could be very helpful for future articles. Thank you.




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