FAMe: A Model to Help Make Effective Personal Decisions

When we must decide in a complex situation, it pays to use an efficient and robust system to ensure consistently effective decisions. We encourage the use of a model called FAMe to help us do so.

Here’s what FAMe stands for:

  • ‘F’ in FAMe stands for ‘Fact Check’
  • A in FAMe stands for ‘Generate Alternatives’
  • Me in FAMe stands for Methodologies, as in, using structured decision-making Methodologies to help you think and make more informed decisions.

Let’s explore the FAMe model at length before learning to use it in the context of a decision-making scenario.

F: Fact Check, Verify Beliefs / Assumptions


Verify the beliefs/ assumptions, including data that you are working with. Ask yourself, how do you know your beliefs/ assumptions and data are true or valid?

Knowledge is different from believing/ having faith in/ doing it because it is how things are always done around the place. How can we be sure that the facts that we have before us are right or valid? In what context are these valid?

Very often we need to determine whether the stated problem is the real issue or just a symptom of something deeper. We need a way to reality-test our perceptions. It could be that our evaluation of a situation is one person’s subjective assessment of that situation.

It might help to consider another person’s view of the situation, as well. It is imperative to note that in some situations, an outsider’s view may be more accurate, while most people involved in the situation tend to view things through the lens of their own emotions or biases.

We need to verify the facts through a systematic investigation before we can commence the decision-making process. Only this will enable us to fully understand the situation and thus make an objective decision.

A: Generate Alternatives (Avoid binary ‘either/ or’ thinking)

Once the facts of the case have been verified, then one must generate alternative solutions or decisions to choose between.

Avoid binary, either/ or thinking. Are there only two alternatives available for you to choose between with respect to the decision that you are making? Could there be other alternatives that you could choose between? 

The key is to widen the options or alternatives before you. This will enable you to decide based on merit and not on insufficient data.

The wider the options you explore, the better your final decision is likely to be.

Generating different options may seem to make your decision more complicated at first, but the act of coming up with alternatives forces you to dig deeper and look at the problem from different angles.

Important: Also, the alternatives you will generate are most often based on how effectively you have Fact checked your data. In the absence of a fact-checking and data validation exercise, or if this exercise is given short shrift, the number of alternatives that you generate will be fewer than optimum. And this will lead to sub-par decisions.

The illustration in the subsequent lesson will help us understand this better. 

Me: Use structured Methodologies to help you think and make decisions (fixed methodologies yield far better decisions)

When convinced that we have fact-checked our assumptions and have a good selection of realistic options or alternatives to choose between, we need to use a structured methodology to decide between the options identified.

You will need a chart paper for this exercise. Take one chart paper for every two alternatives that you have generated. Draw a line in the middle of each chart, dividing it into two halves. Allocate each half to one of the alternatives.

Affix each chart on to a wall or softboard. List each alternative that you have generated at the top of the half of the chart.

Next, you will use the Methodology listed below to choose between the alternatives.

Step 1: List the data that you have verified under each option.

First, list all verified data that you possess.

For example, one of the alternatives that Komal has identified is ‘train Rajiv on how to give feedback’. The verified data, in this case, that ‘80% of the people like his honesty, but not the phrasing of his feedback’ is listed in the half earmarked for this particular option.

Do this for all options or alternatives identified.

Step 2: Add the positives of choosing the option

Add – in the half on the chart earmarked for the option under consideration – how choosing that option will help. In other words, the potential benefits of each option.

Step 3: Add the negatives of choosing the option

Next, add the possible fallout, ramifications or negatives of choosing each option.

Step 4: Identify workarounds or means of mitigating the negatives

Let those creative juices flow freely as you find means of mitigating the fallout of choosing the option or alternative under consideration.

Step 5: Identify how you feel about each decision

It is important that you identify your own feelings about the various alternatives identified. Perhaps you are uncomfortable with a particular decision even though it represents the best among the alternatives identified.

Being cognizant of your own emotional response is important. You are an intelligent human and can learn to deal with it and ensure you make the right choice.

Step 6: Study the charts and arrive at the decision

Lastly, study the chart-paper in front of you. The points that you would have captured under Steps 1 to 5 above will almost always provide you with enough clarity as to which of the options is best.

In Conclusion

The FAMe model mentioned above prevents our biases, binary thinking or emotional responses to situations from driving our decisions. Rather it helps objective decision making.

You would do well to master this model.


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