Decisions vs Outcomes.

It can be challenging to measure the quality of the decisions we make without reviewing the outcomes.

In fact, it appears downright strange not to measure decision quality by reviewing outcomes. After all, isn’t that all that counts, the outcomes we experience based on our previous decisions?

Well, yes and no.

The problem with only looking at the outcomes is that it ignores the fact that life and the world does not quite follow the A —> B —> C method of logic.

The same decision in a multitude of hypothetical parallel universes might lead to a distinct set of outcomes — and this is what we call probability.

You may make a decision that has a 99.99% chance of being right, but the outcome may not be what you expect it to be — does this mean you made the wrong decision?

With respect to the outcome, you did make the wrong decision. But, when you look at the probabilities and the information you had at the time, you absolutely made the right decision.

And so, there is somewhat an air of fatalism about good decision-making. We follow the process, we examine the information that we have available at the time, and we make the best decision we can.

Once the arrow has been set loose, and the decision has been made, it is not up to us whether the arrow hits the intended target or goes wildly amiss.

This can be difficult to accept, but this is just how reality works — and often, it is not fair. The universe doesn’t own anyone anything, and often good people make great decisions that have horrific outcomes, while others make terrible decisions that somehow work out just fine.

But — and this is a big but — if we were to compare, as a group, millions of good decision makers vs bad decision makers, the outcomes would clearly skew towards the good decision-makers, and this is enough of a reason to practice good decision making vs just looking at the outcomes we produce.

Related Essays