The second lie about decision-making

Satyajit Rout
2 min readNov 18, 2022


…is that if you know how to decide in uncertainty (that is, you’ve intuitive decision-making skills), you will do so.

💡At your job, there’s a big difference between making a decision under uncertainty and making a decision under uncertainty that is justifiable to a group.

The signature of the classical decision-making process is that it is a recipe–it is predictable, followable, systematic. You can document it, explain it to anyone, email it to the board. This feature is a butt-cover. It protects your ass from getting kicked.

But making a judgment call when your job’s on the line or business is not doing well? Many would check their VRS plan instead.

This is where psychological safety helps. Without it, employees land hard or, worse, do not jump.

For decades, how high high-jumpers could leap depended on how stably they could land after. Because they had to jump on to sand pits and sand pits meant heavy landings. Foam matting changed that. By helping cushion landings, it led to a wave of innovation in professional high-jumping. Techniques changed, better results arrived.

Corporates champion meritocracy in the workplace. They may say: “Only your talent determines how you shall be rewarded.” But in egging employees to reach for the stars, think of how you can make them land safely.

Because in reaching for the stars, they have to first push to the point of failure. And learn from it.

If it’s a myth that just having the ability to wade through uncertainty and make decisions will mean that people will choose to use that muscle, it is hardly a secret that empowering those same people will get them to perform at their best.

If you’re interested in decision-making, as well as models for thinking better, find them all in my weekly Substack newsletter!



Satyajit Rout

I write about decision-making, mental models, and better thinking and things in between