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September 7, 2004
Applying "Regret" Concepts for Better Decisions
Topic: 1) General Management
Ever wonder how you can leverage the pessimist in you to make better decisions? As a practicing management consultant, I'm focused on facts, quantitative information, benchmarks, leadership, and results. I generally say "pooh-pooh" to everything else. However, there is an important soft side of me that relies on gut feel a bit and sanity checking.

This soft side of me instinctively uses a concept of regret to help ensure broad possibilities are considered, especially when one is at a crossroads. For example, suppose one has converged on making one of two choices that are diametrically opposed and that once the path is chosen, there is a point of no return (e.g., selling off intellectual property of the company or choosing a penetration pricing strategy). Before one commits to the choice, one should ask, "Am I going to regret this decision?" Hopefully, what will be triggered in one's mind will be a process that makes sure that one is looking at the decision from many different angles. For example, one may decide that additional experiments are needed to validate original thinking ("am I going to regret not running additional experiments or will I be able to sleep at night if I commit now?").

In any case, forcing oneself to look at all alternatives by posing key questions of regret can be used in a positive way as a means to strengthen commitment and resolve as opposed to killing momentum. After having considered regret, one should feel better after making a decision, neither worse nor more confused. At least this is one method that helps keep me on track and able to sleep well at night when making tough decisions.

Steve Shu, Managing Director, S4 Management Group

Posted by sshu-s4 (c) S4 Management Group LLC at 10:50 PM CDT
Updated: September 7, 2004 10:59 PM CDT
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