Pragmatic articles on software development and management

Putting a price on decisions

Published on by pariskasid

A whole lot of things happen at work these days — mostly good ones. As a result, I need to take more and more decisions day by day and the fear of decision fatigue can always creep in.

No matter what decision-making tricks of “successful people” surface on the internet, there is no way you can be certain you will take the right decision at the right time. I also don’t think that’s the point at all. What I need is not an answer right now, but the best result in the long-run. For that, a price has to be put on each decision to be taken. What does that mean though?

A cheap decision has minimal impact on the future and can be undone or changed with little effort. For example, choosing a hosting provider for your static website is a decision with minimal impact and that can be changed easily without any of your customers noticing.

An expensive decision has significant impact on the future and is difficult or impossible to be undone or changed. For example, choosing the appropriate data store for your web application — say MongoDB — is decision difficult to change in the future, after tens of gigabytes of customer data is stored there.

Remember; this is a spectrum, not a 0-1 binary switch. The price of each decision can lie anywhere between cheap and expensive. For example, choosing the right copy for your company’s new marketing website is important and can affect your potential customers, but can be changed in a snap in case it does not work out well.

Answering “what is the price of this decision?” every time a new decision concerns you help you put the appropriate attention to it. If it’s an expensive one, you have to sweat the details now. If it’s a cheap one you can move on and not procrastinate for the sake of an unneeded perfectionism.

And, fortunately the majority of our decisions are not written in stone and thus, can be changed.