Tag Archives: decision-making

Video: Why Does Decision-Making Cause So Much Stress?

I was recently invited to deliver a webinar in partnership with The UK Outsourcing Centre and I wanted to share the recording with you.Decision Making Blog Banner

If you are wondering how you could possibly improve the way you make decisions and reduce the amount of stress and emotional tension you experience when making them, this webinar will be very helpful to you.

Apologies up front for the minor technical difficulties at the start of the video!

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John Hackett

Managing Director, Franklin-Hackett Ltd.


Decision-Making Webinar

Join me on Google Plus on 15th July at 11:00am for a webinar that will change the way you think about decision-making.

google-plus-1You will learn how right and wrong thinking can actually lead us to make poor choices, increase stress and create tension when making decisions. You will leave with an understanding of how to harness your mind to make choices that you previously may not have been able to make and which, long term, lead to dramatically improved results.

If you find your staff struggle with what’s right and wrong in your business then why not send them along too?

Register for the webinar on Google Plus here:


Or alternatively, you can watch it on our website:


I hope we will have the chance to work together on the 15th.

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John Hackett

Managing Director, Franklin-Hackett Ltd.

“On What Basis?”: The Dirty Question You Must Never Use at Work – How To Cut The Crap In Meetings

Being something of a serial Apple purchaser (I know, I know), about six months ago I decided I would rather like a brand new Mac Pro. As I am a frustrated musician, I could see this being the perfect purchase for my home studio. “It’s the choice of professional studios”, I said to myself. “It has limitless expandability”, I reasoned. “And it’s really cool”, I fantasised.

I went as far as to look at prices, even attempting to work out how I could fund one of Imagethese almighty beasts. Various web pages describing the Mac Pro were salivated at and numerous YouTube videos were watched with a sense of wonder and glee. This process continued in earnest until one day I happened to mention to my wife that I was considering buying one. Her question cut straight through several weeks of mental machinations – “On what basis do you want one of those? You already have a top of the range iMac”.

Perspective was suddenly achieved. I had everything I needed for my home studio setup in my existing kit. Why was I even considering replacing it with something way more powerful than I needed?

Alarmingly, I had never once asked myself that simple question – “On what basis?”.

In the business environment, we so often sit through meetings exploring various plans and ideas in great detail. What is absolutely staggering is that very rarely does anyone ask “On what basis are we doing this?”. If someone does dare to try out the question, they are often greeted with the same kind of response you get when you secretly build a brick wall across your neighbour’s front door during the night and they work out who did it the following morning. It’s not a popular question to ask in the middle of an intense meeting.

Why is this? Why do we so dislike being confronted with such a useful question in a business situation? Why don’t we use it more?

A key reason is that old human trait – attachment. It is common to all of us – when we have an idea of what we want to see happen, we often attach ourselves to a specific outcome. We emotionally invest in that outcome, it becomes meaningful to us and once that happens, attachment rules our behaviour.

You can test this. Find the guy in the office who is really excited about his potential purchase of a new BMW 3-Series and tell him there are better options in the market. You may get a similar look to what you experience when you pick up someone’s cup of coffee and pour it out of the window. He won’t thank you for it.

He is of course attached to the specific outcome he’s decided he wants – that particular model of car.

In the business environment, people often put forward ideas to which they have become attached. After all, it’s their idea, right? This is the result of an emotional decision-making process rather than a logical one. For more information on the background of how people use emotion in making decisions, take a look at my other blog post – “Why Batman is Relevant to Your Business”

So people in business decide on a particular outcome they want, they pick the means by which it will be achieved and they become attached to it. As a result they don’t question their own logic.

So what happens if you ask the question “On what basis?”. Well, it turns out that this question is one of those lovely phrases that is inherently logical. There is absolutely nothing emotional about it. If you introduce a logical phrase to the brain it resets your mind into a thinking state rather than a feeling state. Now, you may get an initial emotional reaction from someone who’s attached if you put this question to them, but once you get them engaged in processing the question they will quickly switch into logical thinking mode. This is where you want them, because at this point they are separated from their emotional attachment and engaged in solving the problem logically.

By doing this during meetings at work, you can quickly make a big impact on the quality of decision-making and corporate planning.

If you are in any doubt about the impact of a simple phrase, consider this. Would history have been different if someone at Decca Records in 1961 had asked “on what basis do you think guitar groups are on the way out?” after the decision to reject The Beatles? Could a lot of unnecessary cost and bad publicity have been avoided if back in 1985, someone at Coca-Cola had asked “on what basis do you think we need to change the flavour of our most popular drink?”. Would IBM’s fortunes be better today if back in the late 1980’s, someone had asked “on what basis do we think it’s a good idea to give all the rights to our PC operating software to Microsoft?”.

So why not try this out – ask yourself this question when you are planning to do something and also ask your colleagues. It may be a little tricky at first, but I am confident that the benefits will outweigh any short term discomfort.

And by the way, I still have my iMac.

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John Hackett

Managing Director – Franklin-Hackett Ltd.

Why Batman is Relevant to your Business – Better Decision Making

Every single day, you and your colleagues make decisions within your business. The quality of these decisions is what influences your future direction and success. So let me frighten the living daylights out of you by suggesting that the way we all make decisions is fundamentally flawed.

But before I get to that, let’s talk about Batman.Business handshake to seal a deal

Some of you on here may have seen The Dark Knight. If you haven’t, I suggest you check it out. It’s a fantastic film.

For those who don’t know, the basic idea behind the film is the moral dilemma faced by Batman.

There are two main characters in the film – Batman and the Joker. Batman is the altar-ego of Bruce Wayne. Wayne lost his parents when he was a child because they were murdered in cold blood by a criminal. Wayne assumed the identity of Batman in order to go out into Gotham city and bring criminals to justice. At the same time, he made a rule that he would never kill anybody. He did this on the basis that he believed killing was wrong, most likely because of what happened to his parents.

In the film, we see the arrival of the Joker in Gotham city. The Joker has no rules. He is prepared to do anything he likes and kill as many people as he likes purely for his own pleasure. It is clear from an early stage in the film that the Joker is unstoppable.

This presents Batman with a dilemma. As he refuses to kill anybody he’s powerless to stop the Joker. As the film progresses, Batman’s inaction results in the Joker killing numerous people in the city and also several close friends of Batman.

Ultimately, the Joker wins because Batman has rules, whereas the Joker has none.

What’s relevant about this to you is that the cause of the problem in the film is Batman’s strong right and wrong functioning.

We all make decisions in our businesses based on right and wrong functioning to some degree. You may well have experienced moments where you have felt you have made a wrong decision. Equally, you may have experienced times when you feel you have made the right decision. On both occasions, you will have experienced some emotion associated with this. If it’s a wrong decision, you may have felt unhappy. If it was a right decision, you may well have felt good about yourself.

If you listen to the language people use in meetings, you will hear people referring to making the right decision on a regular basis. So like Batman, we all operate to a set of rules and have strong right and wrong functioning in our decision-making.

But curiously, the world is not a binary place. Situations are generally far more complicated and have far more outcomes than the rather simplistic right or wrong options we normally use. Our right and wrong decision making reduces every situation to a binary set of outcomes. Is business really like this?

Right and wrong decision making is based on a number of very rickety elements. Personal values, moral views, emotional states, social pressure and assumptions to name but a few. How consistent are these between different people? How objective are they? Are they always reliable?

Right and wrong decision making blinds us to all the available options we have when making a decision. And we are all brought up with right and wrong functioning hard-wired into our thinking.

Every decision has multiple different options and multiple different outcomes. Every single option is relevant. If we look at all options with no desire to make a right or wrong decision we are left with a choice of which option is the most appropriate to the facts of the situation we find ourselves in. In other words, we are freed from all the emotional baggage that we normally associate with decision-making and are able to make a business led choice.

Next time you come to make a decision, do the following:

  • Assess the facts of the situation; what’s really going on?
  • Consider ALL possible courses of action, even those that seem unpalatable
  • Consider the effects and implications of these actions; what will happen if you follow them?
  • Assess which course of action best fits the facts of the situation based on its cause, effects and implications. There’s your decision!

So maybe it’s useful to be aware that one of the options in reducing our company debt is to sack half of the staff. Maybe it’s okay to consider the possibility that we don’t do that amazing merger deal with another organisation. After all, it’s all just options!

Now think about poor Batman. If he was able to see that the most appropriate option to deal with the situation with the Joker at the beginning of The Dark Knight was to kill the Joker, he would have avoided the one thing that he feared most. Loss of life.

Next time you’re faced with a decision where you find yourself desperately trying to come to the right solution, remember to kill the Joker. It’s not wrong, it’s just an option.

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John Hackett

Managing Director – Franklin-Hackett Ltd.