Invest in decision-making skills early in career

Posted on 02 Jan, 2022

Current Situation

Engineers are solution-oriented and often think in terms of how, rather than what & why?. This leads to

  • Stalled career growth as the work gets unpleasant.

  • In cases, it can lead to debate, followed by judging each other's character and skills.

  • Affects company's growth, since if engineers focus on how then there is a chance people move in different directions


Develop decision-making skills by water-shedding method

Now, wtf is water-shedding?

It is used to collect rain, a watershed is a large area of land (in slope) to collect the rainwater.

  1. Upper Section responsible for storing the bulk of water to prevent flooding.

  2. Middle Section for slowing down the flow of water & removing pollutants to ensure the water downstream is safe.

  3. Lower Section for utilizing the water.

Key Learning: Everything that happens downstream is connected to what happens upstream.

We can use the same pattern to make decisions,

  1. Roots, (upper section)

    • Define the goal and problem

    • Establish shared priorities

    • Define decision criteria

  2. Tributaries (middle section)

    • Generate Solutions

    • Evaluate solutions using the defined criteria

    • Identify solution trade-off to minimize risk

  3. Lakes (lower section)

    • Documenting the decision

    • Communicating to stakeholders

How to watershed

  1. Know your location in the watershed

  2. Articulate and build alignment around your criteria

  3. Diverge before you converge (sufficient time to think broadly, do brainstorming)

  4. Communicate, communicate, communicate

  5. Diagnose when things are off-track & adjust (mitigate risk)


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