What does it mean to make a W.I.S.E. Choice?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines wise as “characterized by wisdom : marked by deep understanding, keen discernment, and a capacity for sound judgment.” This definition uses ideas we need for making good choices: deep understanding, discernment, and sound judgment. Turning the word wise into an acronym covers four important aspects of making productive decisions.

The decision maker Weighed the downside of the choice to put the upside in perspective.
The decision maker has been Informed by those who will use the choice.
The decision maker has considered the Sufficient characteristics for choice to succeed.
The decision maker identified how to make the choice Effective.

In the English language, we can create the opposite of a word just by adding the prefix ‘un’ to the word. Thus, a situation can go from tenable to untenable. When it comes to making decisions, we want to be wise. But things stop us. This does not make us unwise. Merriam-Webster’s thesaurus lists different ways to find synonyms and then antonyms for the word wise. They talk about being wise as in being prudent or aware, and bringing about a desirable result. We want these characteristics to apply to our decision making.

Some opposites for these characteristics include foolish, knuckleheaded, and of course unwise. In looking at the list, I found words that cover the realities of decision making. We have time pressure to choose. The adage of haste makes waste often occurs despite our best intentions. Opposites of wise that fit this situation include unmindful, inattentive, heedless, unprepared, and uninformed.

Wise people still make decisions that are not W.I.S.E. choices, but I don’t think they are foolish or knuckleheaded. I do think they may be more likely to be pressed for time which means they may overlook some key aspects of making a W.I.S.E. choice. With some basic process steps, I think everyone can improve their decision-making capability.

Three improvement actions

You can improve your decision-making with three easy actions.

  1. Identify what process you want to use for making the decision.
  2. Follow the process steps in order. Poor decisions often occur when a step is missed or cut short.
  3. Document the rationale for the decision to show the process you used.

With a short quiz, I can only offer a limited amount of advice. Please sign up for my newsletter and you can get more information about decision making and learn about my new book, W.I.S.E. Choices at Work coming this fall.

Wise Choices at Work