(noun, etymology Dutch from ‘boedel’: estate, possession, inheritance, stock.). 1. Crowd, pack, lot, as in ‘the whole boodle.’ 2. a. Counterfeit money b. Money acquired or spent illegally or improperly, particularly when used in bribery for political purposes. 3. Slang for money in general.

Are Your Planets Out of Line?

Posted on: Jan. 18, 2011  |  By: Ronnie Kahn  |  Category: Boodle-cise, General

Advice for decision makers

You are interviewing three candidates to find a new financial investment manager.  You ask the first prospect if:

a)      (fill-in – interest rates/stocks/bonds/economy) are going to go up or down.  The potential advisor gives you a confident answer that things will be going up and good reasons to back it up.  The next person you interview says confidently, also with good reasons to back it up

b) that things will go down.  A third candidate that you interview says with a full explanation that:

c)      they have no idea whatsoever.

How do we decide?  Our decision will most likely be made by a combination of criterion.  We will take into account how an advisor should act, our beliefs about what a manager should be doing, and what is different about each advisor we spoke with.  We might also base our decision on what others are saying about the advisor’s services, whether their strategy gives us a good shot at getting us what we want, whether they understand us, and so on.  The weakest link in our decision process will probably be the rational reasons to use the advisor such as the logic of his answer.  The decision will probably rely more on such social things as trust, status, personality, and reputation.  Advisor a) and b) know that you are shopping for a manager and they also put their beliefs, past experience and expectations of what your criterion might be.  Advisor C feels that if you understand how markets and the economy work, you will have a better chance of making a smart decision.  We have now entered a solar systems worth of conditions and interrelationships in our decision process.  As to the specifics of how you decide, there would be no clear answer since there are strengths and weaknesses for each decision method.  As to the answer itself given by each advisor, the correct answer is c.

Surprisingly, almost no one would choose the advisor that gave answer c.  We are now entering the asteroid belt of our decision making sun system.  Here are just some of the possible ways to get hit by flying space debris:

  1. Information – We do not have enough, too much, incorrect, or unknown information upon which to base our decision.  We misunderstand the information.  We focus our attention in the wrong places and ignore others.
  2. Cause and effect – We do not know what the causes and results would be, we do know if something causes specifically something else, we do not know the consequences of what our decisions will bring in how that decision will play out into actual outcomes.  In other words, we may do something and see a result but have no way of knowing if the action we performed produced that result.
  3. We do not really know what our own preferences are, as to what we want, need, like, or dislike, nor do we know what our goals are.  Our desires are swaying us temporarily or we do not give equal weight to what will happen down the road.  We change from situation to situation.  Our choices are slanted to confirm are already existing beliefs.  We are clear or unclear of our identity but don’t understand that or our actions do not match our identity.
  4. The story we tell ourselves to make the decision is just one of many that could be told, only accurate in limited ways or situations, and ignores inconsistencies.  We misunderstand what has happened in the past.  We underestimate the complexity of the situation.  There are multiple interpretations or meanings.
  5. Our resources or time do not allow us the chance to act in the way we would like to.  Others have bargained or negotiated choices that change our valid options.  Our morals, past success or failure, or others influence our decision.

This list is just partial!  People make decisions that put themselves at risk for poor health or even an early grave such as taking steroids, drugs, or overeating.  So what can we do with such a daunting task to improve making a decision?  I have three suggestions.  The first is a trick to get us back into planetary orbit.  Take whatever task you are working on and try to tease out what will happen by predicting what will happen.  Keep trying to work out more refined ways to foresee what will happen.  Each pass will not only show you how difficult and frustrating it is to be a prophet but will get you out of your normal pattern of decision making by seeing the many ways that you can be wrong.  It will also get you out of just one mode of choosing such as basing the decision only on what happened in the past, what a person like you should do, or fear of a specific outcome.

The next way to improve making a decision is to find our essence as we did in the blog of December 7, 2010 called “What’s Under That Kilt.

The last advice is that just as life is the journey or the path and not the destination, it is not just the decision outcome but the process that gives meaning.  The relevance is also how you make the decision.  By understanding the meaning and intention clearer, a stronger sense of well-being can develop that will fit the outcome as just one solar system in a grand universe.

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