The 7 Styles of Decision Making
A Note From The Editor
Think your company has what it takes to make our Top Company Cultures list? Apply now.Apply now »
Effective and efficient decision-making is at the core of any entrepreneur’s success.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Jeffrey Shinabarger, author of Yes or No: How Your Everyday Decisions Will Forever Change Your Life and founder of Plywood People, a nonprofit in Atlanta that “leads a community of startups doing good.”
Through his work with Plywood People, Shinabarger has coined seven decision-making styles after working with hundreds of people in "moments of tension or transition," and helping them process how to make difficult decisions.
“Understanding how you make decisions is the starting point to making a more informed decision in the future. Your unique decision-making style speaks to your strengths and also speaks to your greatest weakness," he says. "The hope is to surround yourself with others that make decisions in different styles to make a more informed and thoughtful choice for moments of tension or transition. When we understand our styles better, we are given the opportunity to invite others from other unique perspectives into our process.”
Here is an overview of the seven decision-making styles. You can use Shinabarger's five-minute assessment tool to better understand your personal style.
1. Collective reasoning
People with this style naturally gather a group of opinions before making any decision. Group consensus and buy-in from everyone guides each step forward.
“These individuals believe deeply in democracy," Shinabarger says. "They would love to vote for every decision."
2. Data driven
Hard data, especially numbers, are the basis of these individual's decisions. They take time to research, organize and consider before moving forward.
“The more information they gather, the better," Shinabarger says. "Numbers, research and reason guide what they do and how they decide."
3. Gut reaction
These decision-makers rely on feelings to make quick decisions. They don't mind taking risks and move confidently forward through life.
“Decisions by these individuals are highly emotional and are instinctively known in a matter of moments," Shinabarger says. "They are guided by that moment and are often challenging to predict by others.”
4. List approach
People with this approach only move forward after methodically considering the pros and cons of any decision. Their researched lists give them confidence and a pre-planned path for the future.
“Every decision will start with a piece of paper and a line drawn from top to bottom creating a pro and con list," Shinabarger says. "They can see things from every angle and won’t choose until they have considered every option.”
5. Spiritually guided
Staying close to God or spiritual beliefs and listening carefully for a clear voice of direction is the process employed by these individuals. Prayer, solitude and retreat are their key methods of deciding.
“Before any major decision is made, they will take an extended period of time away from all others to stop and meditate or pray about how to move forward," Shinabarger says. "Until they have a peaceful resolve they will not continue."
6. Story living
These individuals make decisions based on the story they will get to tell afterwards. They want to go to new places, try impossible things and tell the world.
“A great vacation would be to climb Mount Kilimanjaro today with three friends you met on Twitter yesterday," Shinabarger says. "They are the type of people that can keep a bonfire conversation going all night long."
7. Passive undecided
People with this mentality are happy to move forward with almost any decision as long as they do not have to make it. They avoid conflict and choose by following others.
“They are genuinely OK with any other person in their life making decisions on behalf of them," Shinabarger says. "In every situation, choices by others will always be the best decision.”
Which is your style and how do you see it playing out in your daily decision-making? Are you surrounding yourself with enough of the other styles of decision-makers to make the best choices for yourself and your company?
Related: Are You a Leader or a Follower?