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SDP Fellows Blog - Carl Spetzler "DQ Transforms Lives."
10/16/2017 10:26 AM Posted by: SDP Poster Avatar

SDP Fellows Blog

SDP is continuing a new service: periodic blogs, written by SDP Fellows. In this blog, the fourth of the series, Carl Spetzler discusses how Decision Quality transforms lives in youth.


DQ Transforms Lives

As Decision Professionals, most of us have experienced the transformative shifts that come from understanding the principles of DQ. Like, when someone first really appreciates the difference between decisions and outcomes. Or, they begin to really understand the power of reframing. Maybe the biggest of these shifts is gaining empowerment from owning one’s own decisions.

Three separate stories show illustrate this shift in youth.

A young college age man sought me out at a party and said: ”Mister Spetzler, you probably don’t remember me, but I want you to know that you changed my life.”

Naturally, I showed some interest so he continued "I was one of the students at Riekes Center that you taught about decision making for two days before we went on that Himalayan trip four years ago. After that class I started to make good decisions and that completely changed my life.”

I responded by saying "you know, that’s just what we call growing up”.

He then really became agitated and emphatic "You should have seen how irresponsible I was before that. But after taking your class, I took making decisions seriously and that completely changed my life.”


Blanka, a parent sent an email to DEF after her son had attended a one day DQ course: "My son used the decision framework against me already, which made me laugh… but it was VERY helpful to have that common language. Had he not gone through the workshop and not used that terminology, I would have gotten worked up about him not doing what I felt he should have, but him putting it in DQ perspective made me stop and go, ‘well … that makes sense, even though I don’t particularly like it.’

So – thanks for delivering such a fantastic class to our kids.”


One of the teachers that led the one week DEF StrongStart program for a group of incoming freshmen at a rural high school related the following: "We had been warned by the middle school teachers that this incoming class would be the worst behaved class in decades and we were all prepared, but to our surprise, we didn’t see any of that. We see this largely due to the StrongStart training.”

As those three stories show, Decision Education can achieve a profound and fundamental shift in the lives of youth.

  • They shift from seeing themselves as "victims” of the decisions and rules made by others in authority to feeling empowered to make real decisions themselves.
  • They gain the confidence and ability in reaching good decisions and convincing those in authority that their decisions are sound. This makes it no longer just a battle of wills but a discussion about the quality of the decision.
  • When a person feels empowered with real influence on their own life they also take responsibility and act more responsibly.

Johannes Siebert, a young professor at the University of Bayreuth in Germany, developed an instrument for assessing decision skills. He applied that test to hundreds of participants that took a MOOC on DQ (which required about 25 hours of effort). The survey was used both before and after the course. He showed that the course resulted in a significant improvement in decision skills. No surprise there, we expect that -- if the course is effective. However, he then took it one step further and linked the survey to "life satisfaction” measures. There he showed that this increase in decision skills also significantly increased life satisfaction. At first, this seemed surprising to me. Then as I thought about the stories above and the shifts that we see again and again – it seems obvious that any person that becomes more empowered and gains decision skills would become more satisfied with their life.

Spreading DQ because it contributes toward a Better World for the next generations is a great cause. I am delighted to be part of our community of decision professionals where many share my passion for this cause.

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