3 Ps of Decision Making

Making decisions in business can be complex. It can be difficult and it can definitely be overwhelming. Throughout my life I’ve had to make some very tough decisions and I’ve found key priciples that help to guide my decision making process. I call them the 3 Ps.

  • Gut reaction doesn’t work, primarily because I have a bigger gut than others. 
  • Seat-of-the-pants decision making is without planning.
  • Putting out fires could be used to describe various decisions I made.  That’s never a good idea.

Over the years I always used the word planning, but that’s not fun or memorable. In fact, planning seemed to involve all the bigger concepts like tactical, strategic, implementation, etc. People smarter than me used decision trees, but mine always needed pruning. I read hundreds of articles, talked to successful decisionmakers, and tried to distill their wisdom into something that was simple, fast, and accurate.

But in the end, it all comes back to the story my father told me of the Ass (mule, donkey). At the time I think he was referring to me as the metaphorical Ass. An Ass was situated between two bales of hay, each identical in size, taste, etc. The Ass couldn’t decide which to eat and starved. All due to indecision.

So instead of becoming like the Ass, I thought about the process that I’ve used in the past and broke it down into components. I asked myself, what are the key triggers that help me to make a decision?

When faced with any choice, I make sure 2 of 3 of these Ps apply: 

  • P – Profit. Do I benefit financially from this decision?
  • P – Pleasure. Is it fun? Will the process or result make me or others around me happy to work on the project or see the solution?
  • P – Payback. Do I owe it to someone? Am I paying back society?

Then I remembered that I did not want to be a procrastinator, an Ass.

And what if the decision doesn’t apply to 2 or more of my 3 Ps? Well, then it’s easy…perhaps bordering on rude. But the fourth and final P in that situation is Piss Off!

Figure out your 3 Ps. What are the results you want from any decision you make? Do you want to ensure Profit, Pleasure, or Payback? My motivations may be different from yours. But discovering your motivations, helps to narrow your focus and create a path to better decision making.

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