The success of innovation in your organisation is largely dependent on the quality of decisions you make. These include decisions around which business challenges you should focus on solving, which ideas you should progress, and which prototypes you should move to implementation. However, the neuroscience behind great decision-making is probably something few people have training in.
So here is a really simple thing that you can start doing today that will have a huge impact on innovation-related decisions, and all decisions in your life. What we know about the majority of big decisions that we make at work and in life is that there is often no specific time of day that we make these decisions.
At work, for example, big decisions tend to be made when you can find time in people’s calendars – which may be 8am or at 4pm or 5pm.
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But here’s the really important thing: the time of day that you make those big decisions has a dramatic impact on the quality of your decisions. According to the latest scientific research into a concept called “decision fatigue”, our cognitive ability to make effective decisions is finite – as the day progresses, our decisions become worse. This has been demonstrated in various settings, from judges in courtrooms who are significantly less likely to grant parole in the afternoon, through to consumers making worse purchasing decisions later in the day.
To avoid falling victim to decision fatigue and ensure that all your decisions are top quality, stick to this one simple rule: make all your important decisions before lunchtime.
This can be applied in a number of ways:
• When running a full -day innovation workshop (which we don’t recommend doing, by the way…), stop doing the shortlisting of ideas process after lunch. You will miss a lot of the gems due to decision fatigue. Instead, come back the following morning to make key decisions about which ideas to progress and which to leave behind.
• Schedule your most important meetings where decisions are being made for 9am (or earlier).
• Tell other people in your team about decision fatigue and this simple rule so that you get into good habits about decision-making and making them early in the day.