When it’s difficult to decide

I discovered the other day about the etymology of the word “decide”. The “de-” comes from the Latin for “off”, and the “-cide” is from the same word that’s found in “suicide”, “fratricide”, and so on—that is, to kill.

To decide, then, isn’t just about making a positive decision to go forward, it’s also about killing off other options. This might be one reason why it’s sometimes so difficult to make a decision; it’s our fear of walking away from other options.

It’s good to have options, and when I talk to teams about “just enough planning” I often reference the idea, popular in agile development circles, that we should only make decisions at the last responsible moment. Having options gives us flexibility, and in a fast-changing world that’s incredibly powerful.

So how can we more easily step away from our security blanket of options when, finally, it is time to make a decision? Perhaps one key is to first openly recognise that we are cutting off other avenues. And perhaps, second, make a virtue out of it—we no longer need to be encumbered by holding multiple conflicting ideas at once.

Photo by TheKarenD