And Use Something Else

Have a place for everything and put the thing someplace else.

That’s not advice, it is merely custom. Mark Twain

My title and subtitle describe my recommended decision strategy and was inspired by Mark Twain’s whimsical quote. My use something else strategy is not common advice but it is common practice. Most of us believe we are making our decisions rationally, and most of us are usually doing something else. And at one time this included me.

In 1962 my decision making theory was by a totally rational formula: Multiply probability by desirability and pick the highest expected utility. This was common advice then and probably not common practice by most people, including me. But in 1989 I changed my mind, and my new advice was: A creative decision strategy that deals with change, accepts uncertainty and utilizes the nonrational and intuitive side of choosing. My current strategy is to have a rational decision strategy and use something else because we are making decisions with time constraints, too much information, a changing reality and an uncertain future.

So, what is the something else? For the last 25 years I have been presenting non-rational decision strategies. For example: Think without the box, The benefit of doubt, Be focused and flexible, Be a participant observer, Cultivate a beginner’s mind, Use goals to guide you not govern you, Decision Rules of Thumb, Metaphor As Method, Top Ten Tactics, Think Like A Sleuth, A Two System Mind — and more.

But I am not the only one. Other decision making writers, wiser than me, have been changing many minds about rational decision making. Three Nobel Prize winners (Herbert Simon, Daniel Kahneman, and Harry Markowitz) showed us that making totally rational decisions in today’s complex and rapidly changing world is not very likely. They of course influenced me, as has the many popular recent non-fiction books about the new decision making: Gut Feelings, Predictably Irrational, On Being Certain, Subliminal, Being Wrong, Thinking Fast and Slow — to name a few.

Sheena Iyengar, in her 2010 book The Art of Choosing, sums up this new view.

Science can assist us in becoming more skilled choosers,

but at its core, choice remains an art.



This entry was posted in Beliefs. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Eugene Unger says:

    I’m thinking!?????? Art is non-linear, yes? I am multi-liner or scattered, until the moment of truth, and then decisive! Gather up all the fragments of thought, check with God and ready fire aim!!😀 reload aim fire for effect! Be flexible rethink and if needed fire again. Has this hurt anyone? If so, re assess apologize and reconsider firing at all! 😎😇😬👍 Gene


  2. Diane Sukiennik says:

    Thank you for describing so well, what we do so intuitively. We have included this topic in the 11th ed. of The Career Fitness Program:Exercising Your Options, Prentice Hall., Pearson Publishing.
    You continue to inspire us!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.