Decision Making Tools and Strategies by Randy Park
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In this section we provide tools to help you with decision making and problem solving.

NEW: Visual Goals Solution a friend of mine told me about this tool - Goalscape - very cool, very visual approach to goals, subgoals, and progress made. It allows you to keep track of details as well as zoom out to the big picture. Have a look at it here.

UPDATED: Paired Sort Ranking Tool - this on-line tool helps you rank your priorities using simple decisions between pairs of items. A simple example would be choosing 3 pizza toppings from a menu of 8 or 10. Try it here. * This is an updated version, which should work on any Internet device, including your smart phone. It also can be used by an individual or a group.

Or download a printable version here.

Think About It worksheet - this tool helps identify your assumptions, by asking "what do I know for certain?" It turns out that if you ask "what am I assuming?" the answer is always "nothing" because you are looking at the situation through your filter. Simply changing the question can identify new avenues to explore.

Download a printable version here.



Randy wrote a column for "The Ontario Technologist" - the magazine of the Ontario Association of Certified Technicians and Technologists. Some articles are available here:

"Improve Performance at the Peak of Experience"

"How to Share Experience in a Learning Organization"

"How to find your Car Keys and other Thinking Skills"

"Take the ACORN Test and Challenge your Assumptions"

Recommended Books:

Harvard Business Review on Decision Making, various authors, 2001, ISBN 1-57851-557-2. A collection of articles by Harvard experts with practical tools and techniques.

Thinking for Results - Success Strategies, Randy Park, 2004, ISBN 0-9733926-0-6. Can't forget this one! Easy to read discussion of how we think, thinking traps, and techniques to improve decision making and problem solving.

Leadership from Within, Peter Urs Bender, 1997, ISBN 0-7737-5903-4. Practical ideas on the subject of leadership from a master author and speaker.

The Thinker's Toolkit, Morgan D. Jones, 1995, ISBN 0-8129-2808-3. A collection of good, practical tools for decision making.

Thinking Strategically, Avinash K. Dixit & Barry J. Nalebuff, 1991, 0-393-31035-3. A well written, practical guide to game theory and strategy.

The Fifth Discipline, Peter M. Senge, 1990, ISBN 0-385-26095-4. A classic which looks at how bad systems can prevent even well intentioned people from thinking better.

Critical Thinking, Richard Paul & Linda Elder, 2001, ISBN 0-13-086972-4. A comprehensive look at how we think and learn.

Use Your Head, Tony Buzan, 1995, now out of print. The originator of "mind mapping," Tony Buzan has some more recent books, which I have not read but are probably worth checking.

The Deming Management Method, Mary Walton, 1986, ISBN 0-399-55000-3. Excellent explanation of W. Edwards Deming's principles and practises for continuous improvement.

Open Space Technology, Harrison Owen, 1997, ISBN 1-57675-024-8. Open Space is a different approach to meetings and conferences which enables self-organizing groups to effectively deal with complex issues in a short period of time.

How the Mind Works, Steven Pinker, 1997, ISBN 0-393-31848-6. Not a light read, but a thorough summary of the latest research and theories into how our brains work.

Words That Change Minds, Shelle Rose Charvet, 1997, ISBN 0-7872-3479-6. Fascinating discussion of how to understand and influence others through the use of language.

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