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The party of no ideas vs. the party of bad ideas

Today’s blog content was inspired by Dave Sobel’s Business of Tech podcast on one phrase he said during the 28-minute segment: “pick a direction, any direction”. It was almost tangential but, while listening, I happened to be writing about the Six Leadership Superpowers from our upcoming book. The simple ability to DECIDE is the most fundamental of the Six Leadership Superpowers. I’m still looking for more evidence on why making a decision is more important than making the right decision, or rather, indecision is always the wrong decision.

A decision is choosing between alternatives and then sticking with it until you have new data that brings about a new decision.

When confronted with a choice, collect all your data, check your gut, sleep on it if you need to, but then decide! Your troops can’t, and won’t, follow a leader who doesn’t know where to lead them. Without a decision, their confidence erodes and energy wanes, sucking the life out of your company.

Let’s address several reasons why making a decision can be difficult.

Too many options?

What do you do when you have too many options? Generally, we have to find a way to start eliminating options. The first method is the classic list of weighted pros and cons. That is, what’s good about the potential decision, what’s bad, and which of each are the most important. Hopefully, this at least allows you to narrow down the field of choices to a few contenders. If this method still doesn’t pin down one, you’re not off the hook, you will still have to make a decision.

To further remove options, create a requirements list. What are the absolute musts that your decision accomplishes? Eliminate any choice that doesn’t meet those requirements. If there are still remaining options, which objectives are less of a need and more of a want?

Too many opinions?

Listening to others and receiving varying opinions is a powerful way to incorporate expert ideas and advice into your decision-making. The mere act of listening to those opinions certainly inspires confidence in the leader. However, business is not a democracy, and it is okay to hear this new or different information and decide not to act on it. At the end of the day, the decision is yours to make.

Let’s say your IT services firm is looking to roll out a new antivirus. The old one is simply not cutting it and it’s unanimously agreed that it has to be replaced. You’ve hired a wonderful team of talented technicians and now you have as many opinions as you do team members. Often, this is where too many opinions become a burden as, statistically, most ideas will be rejected. You have perspective, you have expert analysis. A team of professionals can take a “no, thank you” in stride if they feel their opinion was valued.

However, if you go back on your decision and repeatedly change your mind based on emotions or without team buy-in, the whiplash of changing directions affects your team and can spark a loss of confidence in your capabilities. Nonetheless, if new information has come to light (e.g. the fine print of the contract had too large of a renewal fee) that’s simply a new decision. Decide and redecide as often as necessary.

F.O.M.M?

Another reason to not decide is the fear of making mistakes. I frequently like to ask business owners how bad can it get based on this decision? Many times, the answer is “I might be wrong”, “I’ll look foolish,” or “I might not make as much money as I could have.” They will use that dialogue to prolong a decision, or many times, never make it. Not making a decision is what makes you look foolish, and you can’t make any money if you don’t decide on a course of action.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes the right decision is to do nothing, but it’s a decision that has to be made intentionally. You could prevent yourself from being wrong, but not deciding is always the wrong decision.

He knows changes aren’t permanent
But change is

– “Tom Sawyer” by Rush

If you have some supporting evidence or sources you’d like to share, please do so in the comments.