I've recently been reflecting on how to best come to action with major decisions–those that we know will have significant consequences for business missions and our personal ambitions. I am working through a major decision in my own career. I offer my reflections on what I've found empowering in two posts. This one focuses on strategic thinking–using our knowledge and reasoning in making a major decision. Next week I'll write on using mindfulness in decision-making. I see this dual approach as most effective in making and enacting major decisions.
Your reason and your passion are the rudder and sails of your seafaring soul. If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas. For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns its own destruction. Kahil Gibran
What Distinguishes Major Decisions?
I characterize a major decision as a commitment which closes other possibilities, producing a situation where reversal is not possible or comes with extraordinary costs and risks. Major decisions are those with consequences that may either significantly enhance or jeopardize our well-being or that of the enterprise. Leading an organization with a commitment to build economic and social wealth means we will face major decisions periodically.
Examples of major decisions I've faced include...
- When to replace myself as CEO to enable a better future for the enterprise
- What level of personal financial risk to take in an enterprise
- How to design a career strategy that's harmonious with both my personal ambition and the obligations of my situation
- Whether to embark upon a strategy to acquire a competitor
- What is my ultimate objective?
- What are my strategic objectives?
- What are my tactical objectives?
- What forces compel me to act? What is the situation (threats, obligations, opportunities)?
- What could change, if anything, that would remove the need for action?
- In what time horizon must I design action, prepare and act?
- What could occur that would force me to act sooner?
- Who else is concerned with or affected by this decision?
- What power do I/we have?
- What power do others have that I must account for?
- What actions can I/we take? What actions are possibilities that can become opportunities as opposed to fantasies or high-concept narratives?
- What is the likely response from others to these actions?
- What is the new situation I am working to produce with this decision?
- What is my plan of action, including the critical path with dates, for producing the new situation?
I commit time (mark it on my calendar) each week to work on a major decision. Whatever I think, I really don't know how much time I have, so I want to be as prepared as I can be with each passing day, moving with alacrity yet without haste. Preparing and executing a major decision is a dance with other people, companies and forces in the marketplace. Your key business confidante, assuming he or she has expertise, can be of major value helping you flow harmoniously through the design and execution of your decision.
Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved. William Jennings Bryan
No Rush The Economist July 7, 2012
Relevant Prior Posts