The art of effective decision-making

Combine your inner wisdom, gut instinct and mental intelligence for effective decision-making, says Victor Marino 

Every moment of every day we are deluged by information. In 2008, we were consuming three times as much information as we were in 1960. In 2012, more than 204 million emails were sent every minute of every day. In 2020, we’ll be producing 44 times more data than we do today.

The constant drip, ping, ring that surrounds us creates a compromised environment of ‘continuous disruption’. This is having a profund effect on our ability to concentrate, think, plan and decide. Our stone-age-designed bodies can’t cope. Confronted with endless data – our hearts beat faster, our breathing becomes shallow, our bodies shift into crisis mode. Making decisions becomes difficult as we can’t access our inner wisdom unincumbered from all the noise.

Wise decisions

Recent neuroscience has uncovered that we have complex and functional neural networks – or ‘brains’ – in our heart and gut as well as our head. And that these are just as critical to effective decision making as our minds. Grant Soosalu and Marvin Oka, in their seminal book mBraining ‘Using your multiple brains to do cool stuff’, reveal how effective leaders use the three centres – head, heart and gut – naturally but not always consciously. When the three ‘brains’ are aligned leaders operate at their most effective. When they are misaligned, decisions can become impaired. These three centres each have their own specialist functions: 

  • Head brain – for executive decisions, analytical thought and strategy
  • Heart brain – for passion, relationships and values
  • Gut brain – for courage, motivation and action

Evidence of these centres is littered throughout our vernacular: ‘Listen to your gut instinct’, ‘follow your heart’, ‘deep in my heart I know’, ‘my gut is telling me something is wrong’.

But in the complex and volatile business environment, leaders can overlook the intuitive intelligence of their other brains. At work there is often a dissonance between the desires of the heart and logic of the head and the sense of self that comes from our gut. In the West, we don’t much like to embrace the heart in the office but working with the heart’s wisdom is where mBraining begins.

In an organisational context, using the gut to do a heart-based job is often evidenced in the CEO who has a voracious appetite for growth. They typically have high-risk drives combined with a strong bias for action through mergers and acquisitions (along with the big office and fast cars). Leaders who overlook the sensitivities of the heart do so at a cost. This was a contributing factor to the spectacular failures we saw in the financial crisis of 2008: leaders were driven by profit (gut) and the system (head) above purpose (heart) or any indeed real connection to their customers or staff (also heart). This disconnected way of working almost brought the Western economy to its knees. 

Fast or slow?

So where does that leave you when it comes the art of making the right call on a difficult decision? The experts don’t necessarily help. Psychologist Daniel Kahneman, noble prize-winner and author of the bestselling book Thinking Fast and Slow, believes many senior managers unconsciously think fast which is prompted by gut instinct and this can often lead to hasty and sometimes disastrous decisions. On the other hand, Malcolm Gladwell, the author of Blink, Outliers and Tipping Point strongly advocates trusting your gut instinct. So, who is right? The answer is both of them. However, it is the skill of application where the real power of effective decision-making is to be found. This is where mBraining comes in. 

When you know the problem and the solution then thinking fast is the most productive and efficient approach to the task in hand. When the problem is complex and ambiguous you need to take the problem on a reflective tour of your multiple brains to clarify if your intelligence networks are aligned. mBraining enables you to combine intuition with analysis and fast with slow thinking providing a much stronger base for safer, clear and wise decisions.

Multiple brain insight

Using methodologies from cognitive linguistics and behavioural modelling, mBraining is a comprehensive system for communicating with and integrating the intelligence of all three brains. It starts with balanced breathing to access the intelligences – tuning into each of them and enabling them to ‘talk to’ the other. This gets them facilitates the brains to function at their ‘highest expression’ (head: creativity, heart: compassion, gut; courage). When this is achieved, the person’s innate intuitive wisdom emerges and the quality of their decisions and actions becomes adaptively and generatively different.

We are all clever enough dealing with the complex challenges of modern life and its seemingly endless demands. Business doesn’t need more ‘cleverness’ what it needs more of is wisdom. Wisdom comes from a more holistic approach to organisational life enabling us to make more effective decisions and take the right course of action. Balancing our heads, hearts and guts is the route map for us to be more creative, more compassionate and more courageous – at work and in life. The mBraining process can help make you wiser and more effective.  

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