How to make better decisions: Practical exercises from professional poker
Words to Likelihood

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This page is meant for the facilitator of the meeting to lead a discussion with the team on the results.
Facilitator instructions
- Review the results on .
- Filter the bar chart by the biggest differences in percentages for words.
- Ask the questions below and write notes below each header.

What are the terms that are most frequently associated with different likelihoods? What are the terms with the largest range of meanings?

Write notes here.

Are people surprised by the range of answers?

Write notes here.

In addition to people attaching different values to these terms, is part of the problem that it’s easier or more comfortable to use a potentially imprecise term is to express (and/or commit to) a specific likelihood?

Write notes here.

Can the team come up with situations where they could be (or have been) communicating with terms for likelihood that could have different meanings? What misunderstandings can occur? What could the potential consequences be?

Write notes here.

What are situations where someone outside the team could believe a term describes a different likelihood?

Write notes here.

Can the team come up with ways to avoid communication problems involving these terms?

(1) Come to agreement that terms for likelihood used in a particular context mean a certain percentage.
(2) Use percentages (or a range of percentages) instead of terms.
(3) Encourage asking for clarification when someone uses one of these terms.

What other words do we use on a regular basis that may have meanings that are overly broad and imprecise?

“I think this thing is doable
“We want the VC to be ‘founder-friendly’”
I think this job candidate will make a great mentor

What are the takeaways?

Demand more precision in team interactions, both in yourself and others
Use percentages when possible (you now have a list that translate these words in percentages!)
If someone hears a vague word in conversation, ask that person to define the term. What does it mean to them?

👉 Review:

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