Learn How to Make Important Decisions

Al Ribes recommends a structured process for improved decision making
Industry Matters Newsletter
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As you face career or life decisions, adopt a structured process for improving your chances of making good decisions:

  1. Brainstorm all your options. Just considering pros-and-cons of one option places too much focus on it. 
  2. Check the associated assumptions for each option. Fight confirmation bias, which is the tendency toward confirming existing beliefs, focusing on one possibility, and ignoring alternatives. Get the help of someone you trust to impartially explore your thoughts and beliefs without judgment.
  3. Overcome short-term emotion in favor of long-term values and passions, by waiting a couple of days before choosing among options. 
  4. Fight overconfidence about your chosen option by preparing yourself to be wrong, considering what is the worst that can happen, and what would you do in that case.  

Much lengthier discussion of this structured process and other strategies can be found in the book ‘Decisive’, by Chip & Dan Heath.


Al Ribes, Core R&D Global Learning Leader, Dow
Al Ribes, Core R&D Global Learning Leader, Dow

Al has a PhD in chemistry and is a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt. He started his Dow career in Analytical Sciences R&D, developed expertise in polymer characterization, and contributed to the startup of a quality control lab in Argentina. Al moved into a Six Sigma role in 2000 to strengthen his project leadership and problem-solving skills and drove improvements in manufacturing, R&D, maintenance, purchasing, commercial, and Environment, Health & Safety work processes. He has also served as a senior operational excellence consultant for Supply Chain and for Human Resources. 

He is currently in the role of Core R&D Global Learning Leader, responsible for developing Dow’s Digital R&D Academy and the change management and communication aspects of Dow’s Digital Material Science program. Al has worked for Dow for 30 years and is located in the Netherlands.

Al is an ACS Fellow, and currently a member of ACS’ Committee on Chemical Safety.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

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