In both our work and our personal lives, all of us regularly face situations that raise the most common and basic question: “What should I do?”
In all these cases, we must first decide what we should do and how we should do it. Then, we have to decide whether we will, in fact, do what we should do.
The best decision makers are not content with avoiding bad decisions or even with making acceptable ones; they want to make a decision that achieves the best possible result (BPR) in the situation. That’s what we call an exemplary decision.
In working with senior executives in government and private enterprise, I’ve dealt with a broad array of complex decision-making situations. In the process, I developed a decision-making strategy that I think is easily adaptable to handling problems all of us face. The central goal of the process is for the decision maker to get the most out of every problem-solving challenge by identifying and pursuing an outcome that represents the best possible result (BPR) under the circumstances.
A decision that produces the BPR accomplishes the decision maker’s short- and long-term goals, without causing negative unintended consequences. It’s the home run of decisions.
Let’s start by recognizing that there are two critical aspects to an exemplary decision: The decision must be both effective and ethical. In other words, a good decision works, and it gets the results you want, but also does so in the right way.
A decision is effective if it efficiently accomplishes intended and desirable objectives without causing unintended and undesirable results. The most effective decision is one that accomplishes the BPR.
A decision is ethical if it reflects an understanding of and commitment to core ethical values such as trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship. These core ethical principles are referred to as the Six Pillars of Character.
Good decisions require both discernment (knowing what to do) and discipline (the strength of character to do it).
There are four steps in the BPR model of decision making:
1) Eliminate options that are either illegal or unethical.
2) Identify the important things you want to achieve.
3) Identify options that will effectively achieve that result without causing avoidable negative unintended consequences.
4) Choose the option that is most likely to produce the best possible result (the BPR).