January 27



A FRIEND OF MINE who lives in South Africa sent me Cognitive Reflection Test (popularized by Economist Shane Frederick) the other day, “A smartphone and a case cost $100 in total. The phone cost $100 more than the case. How much does the case cost?” If you’re like most people, you guessed $10. The answer to the problem is $5(My wife thinks otherwise, I hope she can disapprove of Shane’s theory one day!). Being left-handed could make you a better decision-maker than a right-handed person according to current research. Scientists believe left-handed people are more likely to take their time over unfamiliar tasks and think through the consequences. I wondered if they are co-founding factors that skew the fledgling hypothesis. I suspect the Jury is still out on this.

I believe most of us have made many decisions without thinking about our decision-making and the future consequences. Hope is not a strategy, right? Our elders are not neuroscientists but their ancient wisdom can teach us one or two about making better decisions in our busy Lives! My parents usually say to me as a child running around full of energy without the metaphorical carnival of modern society, be patient and sleep over it before making important decisions Larinde! I loathe when they tell me “you can have your dessert after eating your salad”. Their wisdom finally caught up with me when I read about the fascinating Marshmallow test a few years ago, at the Maudsley Hospital.

With the Marshmallow test in mind, I have been helping my two inexperienced children to improve their decision-making before they disappear to college we sometimes role-play and I would ask them what would they do differently if they were the parent. As a parent scientist, it’s humbling to know that it takes a village to raise our children. I recently told them the story of a man who was sentenced to be hanged for offending the sultan and offered a deal to the court: If they give him a year, he will teach the sultan’s horse to ding, earning his freedom. When he returns to the dock, a fellow prisoner say, “Are you crazy? You’re only postponing the inevitable. In a year there will be hell to pay.” The man replies, “If I figure over a year, a lot can happen. Maybe the Sultan will die, and the new sultan will pardon me. Maybe I’ll die; in that case, I would have lost nothing. Maybe the horse will die; then I’ll be off the hook. And who knows? Maybe I’ll teach the horse to sing!” I would leave their comments to your imagination but would challenge you to put this story to a friend or perhaps your children. Out of curiosity, looking forward to your comments on our website. (Please anonymize the data!)

Good judgment and making wise decisions are one of the most important Life Skills unfortunately perspicacity does not come naturally to most of us and this fundamental skill is overlooked in the Public Square. Imagine if sts-51-L Mission Control had not ignored the desperate concerns of Dr. James P. Bagian concerning the Liftoff of the Challenger Space shuttle on the early morning of January 28, 1986. Pause for a second and think of the countless decisions you have made in the last month! Like most Catastrophic events in the past, their errors can be traced to a combination of factors: relying on past successes, ignoring significant information, conducting facile analysis, yielding to outside pressure, putting too much faith in luck, or misinterpreting important data.

In his book Labyrinth, the Art of Decision Making the author believes it’s time to take a closer look at how we make decisions and learn how to make better choices. He suggested 16 rules to make better decisions:

  1. Prepare for a Black Swan because one thing is certain, sooner or later you will meet one.
  2. The better it’s going, and the more successful you are, the more you are at risk of Turkey syndrome. The deeper you fall into Turkey syndrome the nastier your black swan will be.
  3. The more you admire someone, the more critically you should examine their Opinions.
  4. The more everyone around insists something is impossible, the more you should check it yourself.
  5. The greater the investments of time, effort, money, and our reputation, the harder it is to objectively assess a situation and make the right decision (Sun cost!)
  6. If you find yourself in a black swan situation, go into inquiry mode. Whatever your intuition or experience is telling you may be wrong.
  7. Set up your EXCOMM. Surround yourself with people who don’t think like you. Value those who disagree with you, and who aren’t afraid to say it.
  8. When improving an organization, also pay attention to the best and most efficient processes. Do you have a backup plan?
  9. Shoot down Concordes and hunt for monkey habits. Eliminating loss-making projects and ineffective practices frees up time for other things, increasing a company’s agility and flexibility.
  10. Recognise the value of your failures (and those of others). Thoroughly analyze your past failures and draw in-depth, objective, and actionable conclusions for the future.
  11. Never stop shaping the organizational culture. It can be your greatest ally, or your worst enemy, in making the right decisions.
  12. Great Leaders are distinguished by their awareness that greatness is no guarantee of infallibility.
  13. Don’t be a “decision drunk” – use data for illumination, not only for support. Data can be a great ally when properly analyzed.
  14. Never ignore the values and convictions of other generations, especially those only just entering the market. Even if their influence on decision-making today is minimal, the new normal means this may change sooner than you expect.
  15. The world of data overload is also a world of new possibilities. Actively seek out opportunities to engage a cost-free force that can radically improve the quality of your decision-making.
  16. Encourage and create Leaders around you. Dispersed leadership involves many people, which means there is less risk of a single person making a poor strategic choice.

THIS IS A LONG LIST to make better decisions! My suggestion would be to slow down next time you are making an important decision to ensure you are using systems 1 and 2 thinking (popularized by Daniel Kahneman) to make a better judgment. I have provided lots of bonus materials including how mindset and memory affect decision-making at http:// www.niranojomomdservices.com/ My Wellness Edge that goes beyond the content of this Blog!

“OUR PERSPECTIVE is a constellation of Attitudes, Mindsets, and emotions that forms a lens through which we see the world.”

“I’d liked to know what you think. Please post a comment”.

Blog edited by Annabelle


  2. BBC NEWS- Left-handed people ‘make better decisions.


Marshmallow Test: Marshmallow test is an experimental design that measures a child’s ability to delay gratification.

Turkey Syndrome: Everyone assumes they are a strong point and cannot fail, thinking, “it’s always worked perfectly, so it will keep working perfectly”

System 1 Thinking: Our brains’ fast, automatic, unconscious, and emotional response to situations and stimuli.

System 2 Thinking: the more “analytical, deliberate, and rational side to the thinking process.


good judgement, making decisions, Mindfulness, mindset

About the Author

Niran (Larinde) Ojomo is a Trusted Advisor, COACH, Speaker and Trainer certified with the Maxwell Leadership Team. He is the founder of Forward-Thinking Generation Next, a forward-thinking organization that challenges individuals and organizations to re-invent themselves, anticipate and adapt to the future and be culturally relevant in an increasingly complex globalized world.

Niran Ojomo

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  1. Wao , reading through your article , it generates lot
    of positive and philosophical thinking. As a man who
    come from from a very rich culture in Nigeria. I can resonate with some of the points you enumerate above . We all continue to learn either from others or from our mistakes and grow from it.
    Thank you , Dr Ojomo.

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