Merge's Blog

If you’re not careful, past successes can prove to be decision making pitfalls

Good rule for decision making: what has worked for you in the past will not always work for you in the future!

Making Decisions Road Sign Clipping PathThere is a fine line between using one’s experience as an advantage and getting bogged down in it so that it becomes a disadvantage. The assumption most people make is that what has produced success in the past will generate success in the future. Ergo, use past experiences to make decisions about the future. And this can be an excellent assumption … most of the time! But just as easily, remaining locked in the past can also lead to terrible decisions! In fact, I’ve shared a couple of personal not-so-stellar experiences with decision making in past blog posts (see When things get tough, it’s easy to fall back to old habits and Old habits are not always the best solutions for new situations).

We run into trouble when we rely on old data or processes presuming that the situation or the working environment is the same. But circumstances change, and in today’s fast-paced world of work, sometimes rapidly. Which means that in order to continue to make good decisions, we repeatedly need to do what I call a “climate-check” – an assessment of the environment – to ensure that the conditions are still the same. Economic situations change, organizational politics shift, key personnel alter the power balance; all these factors can reduce the value of past experiences. When it comes to effective decision making and problem solving, it’s worth your while to consistently reassess the data and processes that you’ve used in the past, in the context of the environment of today.

What conscious steps do you take to avoid falling into this trap? Share your ideas please.

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