I first came across Benjamin Franklin’s method of taking decisions while reading one of the books that described the many practical pieces of advise he gave. I have always found this piece of advise useful in my life (all though I use it partially). Recently, I shared this with my son when he was to take an important decision. I am sharing it here for the benefit of others.
The method has three parts:
- First frame the issue that needs a decision and write it down
- Franklin observed that when we feel confused and unable to take a decision, it is due to our mind recognising different reasons for taking the decision on way or the other at different times independent of each others. At any given time, we are not able to keep all the pros and cons together in our mind. His solution: Write down all pros and cons.
- Once you have a list, how do you decide? He suggests matching one or more pros with one or more cons based on comparable degree of importance and ruling those out from further consideration until you are left with only a few pros and cons to decide between.
I personally like Point 1 and 2 above and use it often. However, Point 3 requires a certain degree of algebraic efficiency that I find difficult to do. But the good news is that just doing 1 and 2 helps you take a decision with more confidence and assures you that you have taken a decision after careful consideration.
For those who are interested in reading more:
- Link to the original letter: https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-19-02-0200
- Wikipedia entry on the subject: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decisional_balance_sheet
- Couple of blogs describing the process with examples: https://fs.blog/2012/09/benjamin-franklins-rule-for-decision-making/ | https://www.smartdraw.com/collaboration/making-decisions-ben-franklin.htm
- A blog presenting arguments against the method: https://medium.com/the-polymath-project/franklins-gambit-how-to-not-make-a-decision-like-benjamin-franklin-21dcdf181f71