"How do decisive people think?"originally appeared on Quora -- the knowledge-sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights. Answer by Auren Hoffman, SafeGraph CEO, on Quora:
Different people make better decisions in different time scales. It is important for you to understand what timeframe you have an advantage in and pick a profession accordingly.
For simplicity, there are three types of time scales:
Micro-time means making decisions sub-second.
Great athletes need to make lots of microsecond decisions. They usually cannot wait to process all the information. They need to make superb decisions extremely quickly. Ultimately, a lot of their decision making is pattern matching and muscle memory. Athletes, soldiers, pilots, video game players, and many other professions need excellent micro-time skills.
Anyone who is witty is great with micro-time. Great improv requires mastery of micro-time. If you are the type of person who is great with one-liners, you move in micro-time.
But if you're like me and always come up with the super-great response an hour after it was needed, you likely are not great in micro-time. Micro-time is likely a skill one can develop, but there are no good training courses (other than pattern matching in a very narrow skill, like chess) that I know of to develop it.
Short-time means making decisions in minutes.
Most CEOs are strongest in short-time decision making. They are comfortable taking in the information and making decisions quickly...even if they are not the optimal decisions.
Making decisions in the one-minute to one-hour time span is not easy, but it does give you some time to think and have a back-and-forth with your colleagues and trusted advisers. These thinkers also reserve the right to be wrong (and frequently are) and thus think they can adjust their decisions (even when that proves difficult to do because things are set in motion).
Long-time means making decisions in days to months.
Big thinkers are usually in this category. So are academics and likely most people who have a Ph.D.
This involves taking in an immense amount of information from a ton of different sources, processing it, and coming to a conclusion about a topic.
In my experience, people who fall into the long-time decision-making category often have the most profound conclusions...but also have a hard time changing their mind when they are wrong (likely because of the sunk cost of the work that went into making the decisions in the first place).
Choosing a profession and colleagues
Before selecting a profession, it's best to first figure out what type of decision maker you are. Then you should play to your strength. This is also true with allocating people on your team to the right role, etc.
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