Go ‘Back To The Future’ To Make Better Decisions

Go ‘Back To The Future’ To Make Better Decisions

When you are facing a difficult choice, take a moment and imagine yourself in a successful or failed outcome to gain some clarity, suggests Robert Sutton, author of Scaling Up Excellence: Getting To More Without Settling For Less.

Try going “back to the future.” Sometimes they call it a “pre-mortem”. Imagine it’s 2015 and we failed at rolling out our IT implementation. Just that simple sort of cognitive switch leads people to be much more realistic, and more fine-grained in the analysis of what they need to do. Or instead of thinking how nice (a vacation might be), imagine you’re there and sort of looking back from the future. Gary Klein, the psychologist who has been pushing this, has studies that show people make better decisions when they do this.

It won’t come as easily as Sutton suggests, so you will have to spend some time clearing your thoughts and putting yourself in that imaginary situation. But once you do, it should help come to a better decision about what you do now. And if you’re still stuck, you can try these four tricks, such as contradicting yourself and reversing your assumptions.

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