BRAIN, BRAN and BRAND

Balancing Intuition With Logic

BRAIN, BRAN and BRAND - Balancing Intuition With Logic

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Sometimes, the best decision is to just do nothing.

It certainly appears to be an attractive offer, Jeb concedes, as he listens to Jayla explain the deal that's on the table.

Together, they own a small, independent training company based in Minnesota, which they've built from scratch. Although the business has done OK financially, it's also had its ups and downs. Now, they've received a substantial offer from the state's biggest training provider – their long-term rival – to buy them out.

"It does sound generous," says Jeb, "But isn't there a danger that we'll disappear as a brand? That everything you and I have worked for, all we've built up, will disappear?"

"That's what I want you to work out," Jayla says.

Jeb can't even begin to comprehend how he's going to make this potentially life-altering decision. A tool known as BRAIN could be the answer to his problem. It's commonly used by medical professionals to help them to make informed decisions about their patients' outcomes.

In this article, we'll explore what BRAIN, and its variants BRAN and BRAND, means, how it can be adapted to your business, and its advantages and disadvantages.

Understanding BRAIN, BRAN and BRAND

BRAIN* and its variants BRAN and BRAND are decision-making tools used by midwives, nurses, doctors, and patients to help them to make careful and considered choices in non-emergency situations.

BRAIN helps people to work through problems systematically, using the following acronym:

  • Benefits – What are the benefits of the chosen course of action to the patient or the end user?
  • Risks – What are the risks involved for him or her?
  • Alternatives – Are there any other approaches that you could consider?
  • Intuition or Implications – What is your gut feeling about the situation? Is this course of action really the one that you want to take?
  • Need Time or Nothing – Do you need to take more time to evaluate the problem? What happens if you do nothing? Would doing nothing actually pose less risk than taking action?

You may wish to use the BRAN or BRAND variations, depending on what factors you need to consider when making your decision.

If, for instance, you want to take a more objective approach, you can apply the BRAN framework. This excludes your personal preference or "gut feeling," and can be particularly helpful if you want to remain unbiased when you make your decision.

The other variation, BRAND, also omits the Intuition or Implications step but includes an extra one – Decision. This additional factor prompts you to make a final choice, based on the points that you have covered during the decision-making process.

BRAIN, BRAN and BRAND in the Workplace

Although originally developed for medical practitioners, BRAIN, BRAN and BRAND can easily apply to all sorts of decisions at work.

You can use it to make organizational decisions, such as that faced by Jeb and Jayla, or more personal decisions, such as whether to take a new job or change career.

So how do you apply the tool to decision making in the workplace? Let's return to our example.

Jeb wants to assess whether the deal to buy out his and Jayla's company really stacks up. He also wants to think about whether this is an offer that they actually need or, indeed, want to accept.

He can work through the problem systematically using the BRAIN, BRAN or BRAND framework, to answer the following questions:

Benefits

  • How will both sides benefit from the deal?
  • What will be the benefits to Jeb and Jayla, to their team, to their clients, and to their brand's reputation?
  • Is the offer enough?
  • Will there be opportunities for staying on with the business, just not as owners?
  • Might the deal provide opportunities for expansion or for delivering a richer level of service?

Risks

  • Is there a risk that they're, in effect, cashing in and giving up?
  • Is it simply going to end up being a takeover that results in all of their "assets being stripped" by the larger organization?
  • Could accepting the offer result in team members being let go?
  • Could rumors that they are considering the offer damage their brand, reputation or client relationships?

Alternatives

  • Is rejecting the deal a viable option, considering the business's current sales and profits?
  • Are other buyers interested in making an offer?
  • Could a better deal be negotiated?
  • Is there a danger that the buyer will try to undercut them or intensify competition with them, if the offer is rejected?

Intuition or Implications

  • What was Jeb and Jayla's gut instinct when they heard about the offer?
  • If they're being honest, have they really taken the business as far as they can?
  • Is this offer the best option for maximizing the time and investment that they have put into the business?
  • Could this be what they've both been looking for to allow them to explore new ideas for the future?
  • Is there an element of "now or never" to the deal?

Tip:

The Intuition element of the decision-making process will likely be slightly more complicated than the other sections. This is because it requires you to think about how you feel about the choice that you are making. Take some time for self-reflection, to gauge your true feelings about the issue.

Need Time or Nothing

  • At a practical level, how quickly must they respond to the deal? And what immediate actions do they need to take (for example, discussing it with shareholders or the board)?
  • What will happen if they stall for time, or reject the deal and do nothing?
  • How would they feel if nothing were to change?

Decision

  • Considering all of the options above, what is Jeb and Jayla's best course of action?
  • If they decide to do nothing now, can they return to the possibility of a buyout in the future?
  • What can they learn from the decision-making process?

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Advantages and Disadvantages

BRAIN, BRAN and BRAND provide easy-to-remember frameworks that you can use to assess a decision's opportunities, threats and challenges systematically.

Its simplicity and flexibility means that it can be adapted to a variety of different situations – from organizational, management and team issues to personal dilemmas.

The questions that the tool encourages you to ask will likely help you to evaluate a decision both objectively and subjectively, giving you a more rounded perspective on it.

A particular focus is given to "gut instinct" or intuition – a factor that is less likely to be included in more formal analytical tools, but one that can be just as important as an objective evaluation. After all, your instinct is a product of your experience, knowledge and expertise, so it's important that you trust what your gut is telling you as well as the raw data.

Analyzing the value of doing nothing can also be a potentially useful counterpoint to other decision-making models, which assume that every challenge must result in some action being taken, irrespective of how effective that action is.

At the same time, the tool's simplicity means that you can risk over-generalizing a problem. The tool was originally designed to help medical professionals and their patients to make decisions quickly. However, the problem that you are facing may require you to undertake a more in-depth analysis or gather more information before you make a final decision.

You should also take care when you come to assess the Need Time or Nothing section. Although doing nothing might indeed be the best decision to make in some cases, you'll need to take care to ensure that it won't result in you delaying a decision or missing out on a valuable opportunity.

Tip:

If you feel that further analysis is required after you have worked through the BRAIN, BRAN and BRAND framework, you may want to use a more in-depth decision-making tool such as ORAPAPA, The 8D Problem-Solving model, or the Simplex Process.

Or, if you're under pressure and need to make a decision quickly, you might like to try using the TDODAR model.

Key Points

BRAIN and its variants BRAN and BRAND are decision-making tools commonly used by medical professionals to help patients to make informed decisions about their care. However, its simplicity and flexibility mean that it can also be easily adapted for decision making in the workplace.

BRAIN, BRAN and BRAND stand for:

  • Benefits
  • Risks
  • Alternatives
  • Intuition or Implications
  • Need Time or Nothing
  • Decision

Unlike other more formal decision-making tools, BRAIN asks you to look at problems both objectively and subjectively, giving you a more rounded perspective of the issue. However, be aware that you should use the tool with care, as its simplicity can mean that you run the risk of over-generalizing problems or avoiding taking action.

Apply This to Your Life

The simplicity of the BRAIN, BRAN and BRAND model means that it can be easily applied in a variety of circumstances. You may want to use it to help you to make decisions regarding your career, your team or your personal life.

You might use it, for instance, to assess the benefits and risks of applying for a particular job or promotion. If so, ask yourself what alternative options or approaches are open to you. What does your gut instinct or intuition tell you to do? Would it, in fact, be better to sit tight and do nothing? Or maybe you should focus on developing and progressing in your current position instead?

* Originator unknown. Please contact customer.helpdesk@mindtools.com if you know who the originator is.