We recently asked Michelle Palmer to share her thoughts on better decision making.

Michelle is the Executive Director People and Engagement at the Department of Justice and Attorney General (DJAG), within the Queensland Government. She started at DJAG in May 2019 and finds it a privilege to work with such a great group of people to deliver important justice services to our community.

Prior to this, she spent the majority of her career in the Queensland electricity industry, including more than 11 years at executive level within a $7 billion State Government owned company. Michelle has also been a non-executive director in Australia’s largest environmental not-for-profit membership based organisation. Professionally, she is passionate about staff culture and engagement and delivering contemporary business outcomes through a strategic and stakeholder/customer focused approach.

What is your favourite, or most used, inspirational quote?

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change, that lives within the means available and works co-operatively against common threats.” Charles Darwin.

What does great decision making look and feel like for you?

In an ideal situation – it’s approaching the decision with clarity regarding what the decision actually is about, involving the right people, in the right way, at the right time, with the right information at hand! Early on in my career, I was introduced to the IAP2 framework for public participation in decision making – it’s a sound approach for any type of situation and I use it to underpin all important decisions.

When was a time you were at your decision making best?

I always find that the decision making part of my brain operates at its best when I am leading the response to a crisis or emergency situation. The complexity, pressure and stakes take me to a place of personal calm where I seem to be able to achieve a clear focus on navigating the decisions at hand and have the capacity to incorporate into the process thinking about how to turn ‘lemons into lemonade’ – I wish I could bottle that moment for use in the ‘every day’!!

Who inspires you? Why?

My mum, who passed away in 2006. The advice she always gave me throughout my life and consistently modelled, even in the face of a terminal cancer diagnosis, was to not ‘sweat’ the small stuff or things you can’t change and instead focus on the opportunities or positives you can find. Using that example and mindset I have found that life is less stressful and often I have come across opportunities or learnings I would not have benefited from if I had only been focussing and dwelling on the negatives.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to be a better decision maker?

Consider the decision making framework you are using, is it appropriate and useful? Also, consider how you appropriately involve relevant stakeholders in the decision – using the IAP2 framework is helpful with this. If you are facing a large, high-stakes or complex decision and are lacking a little confidence, consider looking for someone to help mentor you through the decision making process.

What are you reading/watching at the moment?

In regard to professional development, the best book I have read over the last 12 months was “Exponential Organizations: Why New Organizations are Ten Times Better, Faster, and Cheaper Than Yours (and what to Do about It)” by Salim Ismail. A super read if you are interested in the ways exponential technologies are reinventing best practices in business.

On the personal front, I have been enjoying Jane Harper’s crime novels – The Dry, Force of Nature and The Lost Man.


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