Know Greatness When You See It?

Do you really think so?

The  magicianLet’s do a quick psychic demonstration:

Draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper. On the left side of the line name your three best decisions in life and on the right side name a couple of your worst decisions …Go ahead, I’ll wait!

And now be amazed with my uncannily accurate first prediction: The decisions on the left side all turned out great while those on the right side turned out lousy. Underwhelmed? How about my second prediction: You’re probably wrong.

The Measure of Quality
How about all those “best” decisions? Did you apply all the sound decision disciplines to re-frame the question? How much genuine effort went into surfacing all available options? Were safeguards against blind spots and biases applied? If not, then those weren’t good decisions, they just had fortunate outcomes.

If you used sound decision principles, you understood the risks, but those risks just didn’t swing your way, then it wasn’t one of your worst decisions.  It was actually a good one!

We generally assume that, if we skipped disciplines and things turned out well, it’s our great instincts. After all, how can good outcomes flow from a bad decision?

If that was solid logic, then an employee who sneaks away with a million bucks, bets it all on their lucky number at the roulette table, and brings you their thirty five million of winnings should be lauded as a financial genius and be promoted to CFO.

Unfortunately, almost every company has a vivid tale of someone going with their gut, ignoring all controls, and hitting a home run. But honoring that memory is the equivalent of honoring the roulette jockey. Just because someone always wins the lottery doesn’t mean playing the lottery should be your business strategy.

Boosting Your Odds
You don’t need to wait for the results to know whether a decision is great or flawed – I can tell you that well before the results are in.

The key to great decisions is consistently applying all the sound decision principles …even when the solution seems obvious (see The Perfect Crime). That doesn’t guarantee good outcomes every time – the world is too complex for perfect results. But following proven disciplines will improve our percentage of good outcomes, and that I can guarantee!

© 2013 Verax Point

About Dave Wittenberg

I am all about equipping business teams to enjoy greater payoffs on their biggest bets. I bring a unique combination of evaluation expertise and behavioral insights developed over the course of more than 300 major strategic initiatives. Applying a highly effective, disciplined framework, teams unleash their full capabilities to generate better solutions, wring out hidden waste, and deliver superior returns. Specialties: Investment Evaluation, Decision Excellence, Strategic Analysis, Mergers and Acquisitions, Investor Relations, Leadership Development, Education & Training
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