Do you struggle to make decisions?  Do you have recurring questions about your working life, the kind that never quite get resolved – and never quite go away, either?

I found a nifty little book while at the airport a while ago, called The Decision Book, by Krogerus and Tschappeler.

It’s a simple volume, just 50 models for strategic thinking. I always find these models very appealing, as they combine the lure of simplicity with a nice visual aid. Some of the strategies were familiar, some a really useful addition to my toolkit – and a few were plain silly, like mapping your taste in music or fashion so you can see where you fit in to society…

One that dovetailed nicely with one of my existing tools was a strategic thinking / decision making matrix. I use a matrix like this in my career change programs, with ‘desire’ on one axis and ‘practicality’ on the other. (Or sometimes it makes more sense as ‘love’ and ‘money’.) Clients map all their career ideas on the matrix, and it can be a great aid to clarity to see a visual map of where they all fit in.

Often there are one or two possibilities that maybe aren’t the top of the desirability list, but which are very practical – these are useful if you need to make money using your existing skills while you plot your career change. Also interesting are the things you love, but which aren’t currently practical – is there anything you could do to make these more feasible, such as getting some skills, making new contacts, working up a business case? Of course, if you have one career that is high desirability AND practicality, your dilemma is resolved!

The Decision Book is also big on matrices. The one I liked is their ‘project portfolio’ matrix, for people who juggle a number of projects, either as a freelancer or within their core business. They suggest you can classify your project with cost (which includes dollars but also resources, energy needed, people involved) on one axis, and time on the other.

Or you could create a matrix where ‘x’ is how much the project is helping me achieve my objectives, and ‘y’ is how much I am learning from the project. Clearly, projects that don’t score highly on either need to be ditched. If you’re learning but it’s not contributing to your vision, then it’s either a hobby or needs to be tweaked for a better fit. If it contributes but there’s no learning, maybe you can outsource it? And of course if it’s tops on both, then you have a winner.

These are all good examples, but the best matrices are the ones that you create to reflect the dynamics that are the most important to you and your current work issues. What are your big questions?

Joanna Maxwell


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