The perfect proportions of Vitruvian Man

An introduction to the ELECTIA framework for decision-making

The ELECTIA framework highlights five aspects of decisions to which I believe we should give thought in order to make better decisions.

ELECTIA Framework

To visually represent these five aspects of decisions, I have used Vitruvian Man as the basis for the ELECTIA framework. This drawing by Leonardo da Vinci, which is named for and based on work by the architect Vitruvius, depicts what Vitruvius believed to be a perfectly proportioned human figure. I believe that this figure acts as a useful metaphor for decision-making in a number of ways:

  • It is aspirational in that it seeks to represent a perfect human figure. For me, this reflects my belief that people and organisations can learn to make better decisions.
  • It reminds us that decision-making is a human activity and so helps us to acknowledge and embrace the human nature of decision-making.
  • It represents an elegant fusion of science and art, and therefore models the ability to use both rational and creative thinking which is required for good decision-making.

The human figure of Vitruvian Man also provides a helpful aide-memoire for the five aspects of good decision making which the ELECTIA approach aims to deliver, as follows:

Our decisions should be aligned to our vision (that is, to our goals or purpose) and to our values (our beliefs about how we should conduct ourselves). This aspect of decision-making is about far-sightedness and aspiration, so it is linked to the head of the human figure.

Our decisions should be bold (brave, ambitious) on the one hand and at the same time pragmatic (sensible, careful) on the other. Since both bravery and pragmatism have the sense of being action-oriented or “doing” aspects of our decision-making, they are linked to the hands of the human figure.

A large part of our thinking is done by our subconscious mind, which is fast and intuitive, rather than by our conscious mind, which is slower and rational. Our subconscious thinking is prone to many different forms of bias. In order to reduce the unwanted influence of unconscious biases on our decision-making, we need to “get into the guts” of our thinking by examining our subconscious. For this reason, the aspect of our decision-making by which we seek to become free from bias is linked to the gut of the human figure.

Finally, for our decisions to be good ones, they should be based on relevant information (evidence, data) and be well thought through; that is, they should be well grounded. This idea of having a solid grounding and a firm footing for making decisions means that this aspect of decision-making is linked to the legs and feet of the human figure.

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