The value of understanding what you value

From the files of OJ Sanchez, a former decision professional at ExxonMobil, consultant with Decision Strategies, Inc., member of the Society of Decision Professionals, and now director of Strategy Development at Rosnik Solutions, LLC.


My wife and I are out to dinner with another couple at a favorite restaurant. After sitting down, we ordered a round of drinks, began scanning the menu, and asked the ladies to pick the wine.

My friend and I are deep in discussion, have finished our drinks, and are ready to order.

Meanwhile, the decision on the wine had not been made.

I ask: “What is going on? Why is it taking so long?”

My wife said, “We can’t agree on the wine.”

I said: “OK, since I am a Decision Professional, I am going to facilitate and help you with this decision!”

I asked my wife to tell me what is important to her in choosing a wine. (Or, what does she value in this decision?)

She went on to describe all the characteristics of a good wine, which included things like “mellow, with no aftertaste, etc.”. The options that met her objectives were all in the $50+ range.

I asked my friend’s wife what she valued. She only had one consideration: “I don’t want to spend more than $10!”

It was clear that we had to make some trade-offs (make some compromises in our values)! Five minutes later, we had all agreed on a wine with a mellow taste, and priced at $25.

The learning here is that having no idea about what everyone values makes it very difficult to reach a decision, especially when the values are different.

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