My wife was having a medical procedure and it was one of those things that while we could get likely scenarios from our doctors, we wouldn’t know exactly what her situation was going to be until the day of the procedure. The doctors recommended waiting until we had the best information (the day of the procedure) and decide what we wanted to do right before the procedure.

This last minute decision making about something so important, didn’t sit well with us.

Our doctors were willing to talk to us a good deal about the general situation. One of them even called us one evening at 9 pm to further discuss our questions.

With the information we were able to gather, we found that we could begin to predict what our decision would be based on likely situations we would face. We created a decision a model that included the possible scenarios we could face and what we would do in that situation.

On the day of her procedure we had the decision model out in front of us as we listened to the most recent information from the doctors.  She said she felt so overwhelmed that morning, but she just looked at the decision model and put an asterisk next to the situation we found ourselves in and read across the decision we had pre-made for this exact scenario. It made the day so much easier and it gave her a sense of confidence that she didn’t expect.

In life there will always be incomplete information.  

We can’t know everything, it’s impossible.  And we don’t know, what we don’t know, so that complicates things even more.

What we can do is surround ourselves with people who know more than us and ask good questions. This is how you can collect as much information as you need, or you can get, in order to make an informed decision.

The sooner you can come to grips with the idea that you may not be able to know everything before making a decision, the better. Then it’s about collecting the information you can get and making a decision based on what you know.

Keep in mind, you may have to course correct along the way as more information become available, and that just means that you are now in a position to make an even better assessment of the situation.


John Ryan

Host of Key Conversations for Leaders Podcast, Executive Coach, Consultant, and Trainer

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