How can people become more effective decision makers in business and in life? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Gary Hecht, associate professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, on Quora:

How can people become more effective decision makers in business and in life?

This is a huge and important question. Essentially, the goals and content of my managerial accounting courses (both on-campus and on-line) culminate in my answering this very question. There's not enough room here for an entire course's worth of information, but let me speak to what I view as a primary component of the biggest "node" in the decision-making process. And that is figuring out the most important question(s) to address, or decision(s) to make.

This essentially means that you should appreciate the non-linear nature of most decision processes. Sometimes asking a question or identifying a decision leads to some analysis. That analysis may provide an answer to the question, but it might also identify other issues or opportunities that you were not aware of when you asked the original question. Rather than provide you a "final" solution, the analysis may be more useful for refining the problem or decision you asked originally, or perhaps lead you to identify a completely different and more important question or decision.

Effective decision makers are open to this possibility, and leverage it to ask the best questions. Addressing the "right" question or problem is ultimately what creates the most value (in business or in life).

I view this as absolutely crucial to an effective decision making process, and I try and incorporate in every course I teach.

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How to Make Smarter Long-Term Decisions
Published on: Sep 12, 2018