“May you live in interesting times”– it’s a Chinese curse, and whilst we certainly do live in interesting times, we can’t blame the Chinese for that.

The rise in extremism

We’ve seen the rise of extremism around the world in the way that politics in several countries, notably America but also Europe, have developed more extreme positions. Whatever our political point of view, it adds to uncertainty, which affects the way we make decisions.

Cognitive closure

It comes down to the psychology of binary thinking; in particular, cognitive closure. That’s when you have made a decision or formed a judgement. At that point you literally close your mind to new information. That of itself is not a problem. Business people have to come to conclusions, make decisions, and then act on them. We can’t be continually reassessing that decision whilst we implement it. Nothing would ever get done.

People are somewhere on the spectrum between two points, depending on how they make decisions. If they have a high need for closure, they tend to make decisions quickly and see the world in black and white. If they have a low need for closure they tend to be slower, tolerate ambiguity, but find it difficult to make decisions. Where are you on that spectrum?

Heightened need for closure

Most business people recognise the need to make decisions and, I suspect, tend to be towards the high end of the closure spectrum. But we are all human and we are affected by the world around us. In times of heightened uncertainty, people naturally have a higher need for closure. We tend to make judgements more quickly, regardless of the facts. We are also drawn to people who appear to be decisive and paint the world in simple colours. We tend to compensate for the uncertainty around us by seeking simpler, quicker solutions.

Hold your horses

There is a clear need to stop and think a little more deeply. Whilst business people need to be decisive, world events may be pushing you unconsciously to be more decisive, and to act with fewer facts than you would have used before. There is more need than ever, in this world of fake news and fast “facts”, to sense check and pause to assess our decisions.

That is when you call us. It’s what we do, particularly with our strategy work. Ensuring clients have clear objectives, with defined outcomes and a time line they have chosen. So that they get the life they want, with decisions based on their values and needs, without undue influence from external, sometimes inaccurate, sources. Clients use us as a sounding board before they commit money and time. So can you.