We recently asked Vicki Venderent to share her thoughts on better decision making.

With a background across government, the university and private sectors, where she has worked in a variety of marketing communication, strategy and governance roles, Vicki is a true generalist. Her current role is Director of Policy, Performance and Improvement with the Insurance Commission – a portfolio of Queensland Treasury. In this role, she serves as a leader of three wonderful teams of policy, marketing and communication, business improvement and business performance specialists.

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

Although it’s over used, I’m a big fan of “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result” – It was most aptly described in The Simpsons episode “Is Bart smarter than a Hamster” where Bart continuously tries to take the cupcake and gets electrocuted, yet doesn’t change his strategy. I often reflect on whether I’m being dumber than a Hamster when I find myself repeating an activity and expecting a different result.

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

There is fantastic behavioural science that proves to us that great decision making is absolutely influenced by those who are making the decisions. To me, someone who is a great decision maker is someone who uses a number of lenses to view a decision, while also recognising as a human being they themselves may be biasing the outcome. Great decision making is fit-for-purpose. High risk, high resource intensive decisions should be made with due consideration, but nothing drives me more crazy than when someone sweats the details over the smallest and lowest risk of decisions. With the arrival of automated decision making processes, good decision making is evolving and we have to ensure we design-in opportunities for humans to audit decision outcomes as well as opportunities for citizens to appeal decision outcomes.   

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

I am at my decision making best when I’m feeling confident and happy and I have perspective. If I’m too close to a matter or if I’m feeling threatened, my brain turns to mush.

Who inspires you? Why?

In my working life, I am inspired by super smart people. In my current role, I feel ridiculously grateful to be able to interact with academics doing amazing work in the road safety and road trauma space. They inspire me with their passion, their knowledge and their ability to make a real difference.

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

Pause. Assess the decision risk. If it’s high risk or high conflict, take a walk, sleep on it, talk to an unbiased colleague. If it’s low-risk, low conflict, don’t sweat it, just go with your gut.

What are you reading/watching at the moment?

I’m currently listening to Narrative Economics by Robert Shiller.

What is the most effective strategy you use for keeping your Ape (your emotional reactive state) in check?

I’m afraid I’m a work in progress at keeping my Ape in check. Depends on which Ape is playing up. With anger, reframing helps. With fear/anxiety, I have to walk away and get some air and some perspective. Purchasing stationery often makes my Ape settle down. I particularly like to purchase Copic markers.

What type of decision maker are you?

Questioning Strategist


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