Welcome to week three of five in our series on #CareerReady skills.  These are professional development skills that most 21st century jobs require. Today, we’re focused on Decision Making!

If you really think about it, we make decisions all the time — we make decisions about what to wear, what to eat, where to go on vacation, whom to date and so on. Of course, some are easier than others, like what you’ll eat for breakfast. But what about the tougher decisions you’ll need to make throughout your career? In a professional environment, it is not always easy to make a decision. There are many things at play — you don’t always have all the information you need, you may have to think about how the decision impacts everyone, you have to keep in mind the opinions of senior management and the list goes on.

Why is Decision Making so important?

Decision Making is especially important for programmers. We’ve mentioned this in our previous posts and it bears repeating: coding is a craft unlike many other professions — there usually isn’t one right way to solve the challenge. There are in fact many right ways to solve a particular challenge. This is where your decision making skills will be especially useful. When you’re building a solution as a programmer, even the smallest of decisions about features, architecture or branching can sometimes have a huge downstream impact on your team members, other dependent applications in the organization or your customers.

Four Strategies to Level up on your Decision Making Skills:

1. Back-of-the-envelope: When you’re trying to meet a looming deadline, need to make a decision quickly and the risks aren’t high, do a quick back-of-the-envelope analysis (pros and cons / cost-benefit / scenarios). If you have access to someone experienced with the subject matter, definitely reach out and ask for an opinion. Also, do not underestimate the power of Google, especially when it comes to the analysis because chances are someone else has already done the leg work (a word of caution! Be sure to double check online sources, always!).

2. Big Decisions: When you’re battling a serious decision, such as what type of job offer to accept or where to move, it definitely can be agonizing. However, there is a great framework offered up by Dr. Ruth Chang which you can view in this TED talk – I highly recommend it. At its core, it asks you to really think about who you are, what you value in life and let that be a guide for the decision you’ll make.

3. Your Decision-Making Style: It’s important to learn about the different styles of decision making and be mindful of which one you naturally gravitate towards. Whether you tend to be impulsive or you agonize over every detail, it’s good to be aware of your preferred style so that you keep it in check. It’s also important to know the preferred decision making style of your team members and your boss so that you can work better together.

4. 10-10-10: Try and be mindful of analysis paralysis: there is such a thing as taking in too much information, so much that it overwhelms you and you’re not able to figure out which path to go down.  When you feel yourself getting into this mode, think about the 10-10-10 rule, popularized by Suzy Welch, wife of Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric. What will be the consequences of my decision in 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 year?

The Takeaway

Decision Making is an extremely crucial skill to succeed in your career and life in general. Remember, before making an important decision at work, even if you’re working under extreme deadlines, it is worth taking a few extra minutes to make sure you’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s: check in with someone you trust, read up on similar solutions online or re-check your work. It will be all worth it!

And finally, we want to hear from you!

Tweet @SPICEDacademy using the hashtag #CareerReady and tell us how you’re teaching yourself #CareerReady skills or how you’re already applying them in your everyday life!




If you’re interested in learning how to code in a great city, explore SPICED Academy in Berlin today!

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