I recently heard about a concept called decision making fatigue from a friend of mine. It basically means that throughout the day the more that is thrown our way, the less capable of making solid decisions you become. Seems logical, but the statistics on this topic that have been documented are pretty staggering.
John Tierney from New York Magazine explained this phenomenon by using an example of how 1,100 parole board decisions revealed the following: Prisoners who appeared in the morning received parole 70% of the time, but those who came later in the day only received parole less than 10% of the time. The reason? Decision making fatigue. Parole officers are seemingly unable to make decisions later in the day, so they avoid it by not granting parole and pushing it off to a later time.
Thinking about how this impacts our world as customer advocates, it basically boils down to this: all decisions are hard to make, but the more that is thrown our way, the less capable we become of making the right decision for our customers or our companies. At least later in the day, it seems.
Tierney suggests in his article that making big decisions should wait until the next day if you have reached a decision making fatigue point. So, in other words, he suggests not restructuring or reorganizing your company at 4:00pm! Here are some ideas that can help us eliminate the impact of decision-making fatigue, even if you are short on time:
· Get Some Sleep. If a big decision is hanging over your head late in the day, sleep on it. Come back and think it through first thing in the morning.
· Stagger Team Schedules. If it works within your company environment, have team members stagger their hours so there are “fresher” minds available for longer periods in the day.
· Be Choosy. Choose where you spend your time wisely. Tackle your biggest and most strategic items early in the day.
The bottom line is that it takes time to think through the implications our ‘fatigued’ decisions can have on customers every day. Just don’t wait too long or your customers will get fatigued from your company’s lack of decision making ability!
Vice President, Consulting Services