Category Archives: Priorities

Decision Making in Three Steps: Part 1

“All literature on ‘effective decision making’ can be reduced to: Look before you cross the street. The academic solution is sufficiently broad to analyze everything, and thus nothing.” So says Dale A. Duten in Quitting: Knowing when to leave… a job, a marriage, or any other unhappy spot you’re in (1980, Beaver Books Ltd., Canada.) It’s a great little book, out of print, I believe but often available at Amazon as a used book. I particularly love the mathematical formula he devised for knowing when you might be successful at quitting. I’m not talking about making the right choice, but at least making a choice that you won’t revisit over and over.

But for the actual priorities of choice, I have just three simple rules. I’ll cover them in the next couple of posts.

First I always ask, “Is there blood?” I’m talking real-red-coming-out-of-your-arm blood? Not that you think there might be blood. Neither that you imagine really bad things will happen.. but real blood.

Real blood flow must be stopped immediately. This is a first aide kind of problem. And all other activities must wait until the blood is stopped.

This is a reactive position. If you’re in a planning phase the question is better asked: “Will any babies die?” I saw this in the newspaper once. OK, not exactly that phrase but I know the woman was misquoted. The reporter wrote something like: No serious harm would be caused to small children. I know she really said no babies will die if we do this.

Of course, if actual babies will die, the decision should be obvious. If it’s not, that’s a whole different problem, in my opinion.