Approach

“Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.” – Tony Robbins

The ELECTIA approach to decision making was developed to enable individuals, teams and organisations to make better decisions and to thereby increase their performance and their wellbeing.

It is a highly flexible approach that can be applied in any choice situation. It is of particular value for the development of strategy, the development of good leadership practices, and the planning and delivery of change.

The approach is a set of interrelated cognitive and behavioural practices that are based on modern cognitive and behavioural sciences, including evolutionary psychology and behavioural economics.

The benefits of the ELECTIA approach for organisational decision making have been demonstrated through action research within a large, global organisation.

Aspects of the ELECTIA approach to decision making

The ELECTIA approach to decision making respects and embraces the human nature of decision making; that is, our aspirations, our ambition and our values, the practicalities of real life, and our human foibles and biases. It encourages, inspires and guides thinking and judgement through the use of concepts and questions. It does not provide answers as an equation does. Instead, answers come from the decision-maker(s) and their deliberation. It assumes that to make better decisions we must first empower ourselves to be decision-makers.

The ELECTIA approach is designed to harness the strengths of each of our two thinking systems: System 1, which is automatic, fast, effortless, associative (non-rational, intuitive) and unconscious; and System 2, which is slow, effortful, deliberative, logical and conscious. The approach also seeks to minimize the risks that arise from the weaknesses of each system.

The ELECTIA approach describes a number of principles and enabling capabilities that support good decision making, a framework of five elements and a process of six steps.

Principles and enabling capabilities

The main principle of the approach is that people can learn to make better decisions when they learn how their minds operate and therefore how to make better use of their different cognitive capabilities. The primary enabling capability is therefore to learn to think about thinking, something that is also called “metacognition”. By doing this, we can use both our rational and intuitive thinking more effectively and reduce the risk of cognitive biases.

The ELECTIA framework

The ELECTIA framework describes five aspects that make a decision a good decision. It proposes that our decisions should be:

Individual and group processes for decision making

The ELECTIA approach treats decision making as a process, whether you are an individual, a group or an organisation.

The first step is to ensure that the decision to be made is well described and well framed. Choices should also be made at the outset about the approach for making the decision; for example, whether to maximise or satisfice. It is human nature to simply ‘dive in’ to decision making, usually without taking this important first step, yet clear benefits of taking the time to describe and frame decisions have been demonstrated through action research within a large organisation.

The process then directs us to generate ideas and options and to rule options in or out, using our creative, intuitive, expansive thinking and our rational, reductive thinking as appropriate. Once again, human nature makes us often too quick and lazy in this regard; we too often consider just ‘one plan at a time‘ until we find the first solution that might work, which may of course not be the best solution.

For groups or teams that must make a collective decision, group process is extremely important. Groups are smarter when they adopt behaviours that support a free exchange and unbiased consideration of diverse perspectives.

Learning more about the ELECTIA approach

Adult learning is easiest and most effective when it is experiential, relevant and fun. To help you learn more about the ELECTIA approach, I have written a series of articles that describe aspects of the approach in more detail, provide relevant theory and supporting information, and relate each topic to aspects of daily life, hopefully in a thought-provoking and fun way. Click on any of the hyperlinks in the sections above to be taken to an article related to that topic.

In addition, I offer consulting services and coaching to individuals, teams and organisation to help them to learn and gain benefit from the ELECTIA approach. If you would like to talk about partnering, please get in touch using the information in the Contact section.