Monday, September 15, 2008

Sustainable Decision Making

One of the hardest things in my view that a leader has to do is to change or alter something that he or she has put into place. This makes continual progress and innovation especially difficult for a manager or leader who has been in place for a long period of time because they have put so much into place over time. Leaders with longevity can become very attached to the status quo, as if they were nearing the end of a finish line, or reaching a finish point or final destination. This is a mental trickbag because the last thing a good businessman wants is to reach the end of their business. There is not an end and should always be new beginnings. This realization alone, or lack of it, is the source of much exhaustion and frustration for many, many leaders.

Good leaders make decisions with tremendous deliberation: input from inside the organization, analysis of outside trends and movement, worst case scenario analysis, cost/benefit analysis, cost of doing nothing analysis, and more. Because much time and effort is expended, leaders become emotionally attached to the decisions they make. Becoming emotionally attached to a decision itself or a course of action deemed strategic at the time, makes it hard, as writers say, "to kill the darlings." And, it is "killing the darlings" that makes a leader able to continually stay in touch and aligned with current market needs and conditions.

A better tack, in my opinion, is to become emotionally attached to the decision-making process, not the decision or outcome itself. One must become not only emotionally attached and energized by the decision-making process; he or she must trust the process, and work to make their decision-making processes full and expansive and trust-worthy. Tweaking the ends and outs of how decisions are derived, what input is considered, what input is customarily not considered but should be, etc. is invaluable to a leader who wants to be at the helm of a sustainable organization. Past decisions should reflect the best available thinking available based on input, time, and talent at the time. Thus, a leader should reflect and learn from the past, but not be wed to it.

Become wed to thought leadership and forward thinking that continually drives improvement, innovation, efficiencies, and downstream leadership in each department of your organization. Model "killing the darlings" for each member of each department of your organization in order to keep the place rolling strong.

What needs to be decided today to keep this business competitive, relevant, sustainable, on course, an industry player?

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