HoB icon

Decision Making

Decision Making, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Change Processes

When emotion replaces reason as a basis of judgment, perception and behavior, any individual, no matter how insane, is empowered to justify any behavior whatsoever. Howard Rankin


This page includes a six step decision making process or critical thinking process, a change process, a five step strategy to encourage change, different influence systems, influences on people, a circles of influence diagram, and supporting resources

Six Step Decision Making Process and Critical Thinking

  1. Identify and describe the problem or opportunity

  1. Focus on the situation and gather reliable information

  1. Identify choices, solutions, and implementations

  1. Analyze consequences and values for all solutions

  1. Decide and implement

  1. Evaluate and decide on an option and process for implementation

Change Process

How we communicate the change process is as important as the change process itself. Joshua P. Starr


People don't think logically like lawyers, scientists, or mathematicians. They hold on to their beliefs and search for information to support them. Beliefs they deeply value and associate with their cultural identities. They trust what people like them say and look to them when making decisions. Issues like eating a vegetarian or meat diet, climate change, fracking, and other issues can find support for both sides of these issues.

For people to make decisions that are healthful and not harmful to them, it is important they understand how not only to make good decisions, but what effects whether or not they might accept or reject change.

Variables that affect change: people's beliefs, leadership, culture, resources, organizational structures, inertia, selfishness, focus on self, fail to understand, fail to understand the importance of diversity, reluctance to systematically solve problems, fall back on traditions, no desire to take risks, don't want to upset other people or ruffle feathers, lazy, believe if it is ignored it will go away.

A Process of change

Step 1

Understand that change is going to happen. People may accept it, deny it, or be in shock. They can be in a wait and see mode, a let's get going mode and full speed ahead, or a you are not going to get me to change mode. For the change to be successful communication is critical. It must be powerful enough to convince people of the benefits that will result. Don't overwhelm, but provide enough essential information to begin the process and information on where and when additional information and support will be available.

Step 2

Is when people start to build apprehension, anxiety, concern, denial, sadness, loss, frustration, anger, resentment or fear. They may reject the change and seek to resist it actively or passively. If this step isn't anticipated and dealt with proactively, chaos can descend and stop the process. Careful planning that anticipates possible problems and how to negotiate solutions that will address people's concerns and objections is critical to navigate this step. Address all problems early and with clear communication that supports people emotionally as well as with the information they need to successfully achieve the change.

Step 3

Is the point where individuals accept the change. They will be willingly to explore and test the limits related to the change if the environment is as risk accepting as the situation can provide with consideration to safety concerns. It is important to continually recognize a need for support, assistance, and time to become skilled with the implementation of the changes.

Step 4

This is the goal or outcome desired. People agree there have been beneficial results created with the change. The change is second nature as people can perform it well and have developed the ability to solve associated problems and make suggestions for improvements upon the change. It is time to celebrate success with everyone, which will set the stage for the next time change is desired.

Actions people use to refuse change

  1. Refuse to turn ideas around and ask, what are some reasons I might be wrong?
  2. Cherry picks ideas to support a position.
  3. Contradicts an authority's ideas without researching it.
  4. Reject ideas based on belief or implication rather than logic or facts.
  5. Launch a personal attack on the people or organizations associated with the ideas.
  6. Use emotional words rather than evidence or logic.
  7. Appeal to fairness by allowing both sides of an issue legitimacy when one is clearly not legitimate. Allowing parents to opt out of vaccines for young children.
  8. Use a scientific community disagreement on developing detail of theory to reject the foundational ideas that are accepted by the scientific community. For example rejecting the foundational idea of evolution based on the idea that the science community couldn't explain sudden evolutionary changes. Some of which have recently been explained by cryptic mutations. See Scientific America Innovators. 2015. Seemingly Unimportant mutations Can Foster Disease. Ed Young.

Five Step Strategy to Encourage Change or a
Strategy for a Conversation with someone with Illogical or Irrational Ideas

  1. Engage with the person in real time. Discussions in other media do not provide social and non verbal cues necessary to have a nice rational discussion. Without which it can escalate as people become defensive, use emotional words, and can resort to name calling.
  2. Be a good listener and make a connection. Remember most human decision are made on emotions rather than logic. Try to be one of them by finding common ground. Ask questions instead of providing facts as in a lecture. Present information in ways that fit their current belief or understanding. If conflicting information is essential, then try a what if ... suggestion in the form of a question. Or a contradictory statement that isn't stated as a question or sarcastic remark.
  3. As ideas with different points of view or belief are exchanged, be sure to affirm their self-worth. It is essential they feel positive about themselves and the ideas which must be considered theirs, if they are to be accepted. Might suggest taking a different point of view is something only a confident person can do.
  4. Focus on facts not misconceptions. Over time misconceptions can return and muddle people's understanding so they often return to accepting misrepresentations. Try to find a simple truth to use as a reference so they might return to it in the future and use it as a stepping stone to reconstruct more accurate ideas.
  5. Ask the person to explain their understanding and probe as deeply as they are willing to accept. Asking how do you know, how would you define ..., why do you believe ..., trying to expose any gaps that may be in their understanding and explanation. Learning takes time and if there isn't a connection to a valid idea an a path of accurate information connecting to other more complicated ideas there is the possibility of regressing to previous inaccurate ideas.

Adapted from: Discover. July August 2015, How to stop Shouting: 6 Strategies for Conversing with Someone Who Has Irrational Ideas. by Christie Aschwanden


Influence systems

Influence systems

Influences on people

Circles of influence


Related resources: