Dynamic Decision Making

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BetterUp Studios

5 min

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Our work world is more uncertain than ever despite having more information than ever.

Dynamic Decision Making (DDM) can help you rise to the challenge of this new environment.

Unlike traditional decision making, where you make a single, significant decision, DDM is a series of consecutive, smaller decisions, each made in real time. Think of the types of quick-fire decisions made by fighter pilots, surgeons and firefighters, and you’ll soon get the picture.

Traditional VS Dynamic Decision Making



Single Decision Ongoing Decisions
Independent Interdependent
Static Dynamic
No-time pressure Real-time
Transparent Opaque
Linear Non-Linear
Simple Complex

Enter cognitive agility, which, according to Drs. Darren Good and Bauback Yeganeh, is the ability to operate with openness, focused attention, and flexibility.

  • Openness is the willingness to search for new information in an environment.
  • Focused attention is the capacity to block distractions.
  • Cognitive flexibility is the ability to shift between being open and focused, depending on what’s needed in the moment.

To improve your cognitive agility, try these four steps:


Step 1

Identify the projects (or contexts) where you’d like to be more effective.

Write down all the major tasks associated with each. Which tasks require ongoing decision making?

Step 2

For each project ask, “what are the obstacles keeping me from openness, focused attention, and flexibility?”

Identify the people, ideas, and external information that may be distracting you. Is a narrow focus preventing you from being open? What information are you overlooking? Is your expertise preventing you from seeing an alternative?

Step 3

Think about the future of the project.

How would you like to focus your attention? What information is most important? How will you seek out new information? Is there anyone else who can provide fresh data, ideas, or new perspectives — and can you let them temper your own expertise?

Step 4

Practice mindfulness.

Jump start your cognitive agility by practicing mindfulness so that you’re in the present moment. Focusing on your breath will help to interrupt your automatic routine. Practice moving back and forth between openness and focus while asking yourself if any new information is helpful or distracting.

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