Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Realism is Source of Good Decision

One vital and radical move toward better decision making is to foster realism. Too often organizations are guilty of looking at the world the way that they would like it to be, chronically engaging in a sort of happy, comfortable group think or grand organizational delusion. This can be amplified and perpetuated in cases where most people in the organization have little or no contact with people in the industry outside the walls of their workplace. People inside organizations often think we all love each other and love what we do, so customers will love us, too. It's not that simple or that "all-about-me-the-peppy-provider."

Customers makes decisions about your product and what it does for them. Customers search for products (and services) that fill a need. It is all about them, the customer. Customers buy your product (or service) based on its quality and performance in meeting their needs. So, the organization's thinking must start here: customer first; quality always. Ask yourself and those in your organization realistically, what does it take to accomplish customer first, quality always?

What is needed in order to reach and support good strategic decision making is looking at the world the way it is, even when the reality of the way the world is conflicts with our desires, comfortable level, current knowledge base, and values about how things should be. Organizations, which are wrought with group think for many reasons, have to remember that the day they start situating things for the comfort and benefit of the people inside the organization is the day they start to go out of business. The reason is because customer needs and customer comfort has to come first. The auto companies and the airlines should be able to sound off on this paradigm shift from tremendous painful experience. This benefit mentality, which is complex and complicated, coupled with a complacency which denies reality and a sense of entitlement, has just about killed off all of the auto and airline mainstays - the very people who forever considered themselves invincible. Where are they now? Undergoing a tremendous, public, expensive, extensive reality check.

Organizations with leaders who can infuse reality based on the now, and those willing to learn to do it, will be the victors, especially as we head into strange new realities and market alignments that are coming as our bubbly economy adjusts. And check this reality: don't think because you are not a airline or auto company or because you are not big that it does not matter. Customers are savvy and in touch with their needs, and they vote with their dollars. Customers use the same analytical framework whether they are looking for a doctor, a dentist, a car, a lawyer, a new vacuum, a college, or a preschool. Don't kid yourself or let the people in your organization cloud reality. I heard a organization leader say, unfortunately more than once, "we are not a real business." Reality check: then what are you, besides deluded?

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