The Ultimate Burning Platform – How did you do?

Let me start this article by saying that it should be read in the context of business impact as a result of the global pandemic. Many of us have had to deal with it at a personal level and for far too many the consequence has been awful. Here I am reflecting on it in our work lives only.

How we react to difficult situations is dependent on a lot of factors, not least of which is level of preparedness. But despite the sudden nature of this event, many have achieved remarkable things in a very short space of time, whilst others have floundered. This is what I’d like to explore here.

How do some make good decisions and others do not?

For me it starts with clarity of purpose. For many, COVID created a very clear and collective need to dramatically alter how we worked.

Getting anything right takes time?

So we like principles such as Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point because it resonates with us.

The feeling that nothing worth having comes easily, and even the most gifted have had to work hard (10+ years) to get a top quartile result. It just makes sense…. does it not?

Now that leads to a thought which I have been having a ponder on, which is – what sits at the heart of people who excel Vs those that don’t – besides 10 years of effort, and I think it is to do with Volume & Risk.

Those that do well have a clear goal (Purpose – be the world’s fastest/best) and work towards it in a series of small steps that allow for reflection, refinement and adjustment.

Custerian Model | Better Decision Making

Essentially, in my view, the way to get things done, is to do things. And today that means operating top right of this model. Making short iterative steps (using Agile New Ways of Working) to create and inform as you go.

But making decisions is risky?

I suspect that people who excel, do a lot more things than those that don’t. But I think there is another consideration other than volume, which is they are perceptive on the risk they are taking.

Now we know those that excel are capable of taking bold decisions. But I think this is also a function of the fact that they simply make more decisions, so have a better sense of what works, and what does not.

Of course, if they get it wrong, they simply iterate again.

So, we all just need to make more decisions?

The model above is underpinned by a couple of pre-conditions that affect the context (and again it is often the context we operate in that makes or breaks an outcome).

Risk Vs Volume – Historically there have been very good reasons to keep decision making ‘contained’ and that is because the consequence of getting it wrong was high. Either though the cost that was incurred, or the scale of effort involved in backing out. But that’s changing, due, in part to a fundamental shift in IT…

Business Vs Consumer Power – This is about how fast things were expected to change, and again historically business could move faster than consumers requirements, so expectations across a broad range of services could be set and met by the supplier. Clearly this has, and is changing dramatically – from business to consumer…

A thought for you – Do more ‘stuff’

So, my opening premise is that people who achieve things, do so by making more decisions, which creates an innate feel for backing more winners than losers (plus as they make more decisions they get better at ‘big’ decision making, because they don’t appear as big!).

Even better, it’s getting easier

Look around the various ‘insight’ streams that we all subscribe to, and you will see a growth in things like Agile Thinking. Articles like this one by Ryan Holmes of Hootsuite, which prompted me to write this. Thoughts from Elon Musk about using First Principles to challenge preconceptions about how things are done.

What these all say, to me, is that the relative ‘risk’ of any decision is falling, so you can make more as long as you adopt the right (new) ways of Agile/Accelerated working – Now please note all my thinking is prefaced with the statement that to be in business you need a clear Purpose, against which customers and colleagues can align themselves to deliver your commercial goals.

More importantly, because Customers are becoming more Socially/Technically’ empowered, you do need to pick up the pace of activity, or else you may find yourself playing catch up with the (customer driven) ever changing face of your own business.

It can’t be that easy. Can it?

Just because something is simple, does not make it easy. So please don’t think I am advocating that business is getting easier (believe me – it does not feel it). But what I do feel is that a number of things are lining up which mean the ‘context’ for meeting the challenge of change is less risky than it used to be.
Perhaps the biggest single driver of this lowered risk profile, is the movement of technology from inhibitor to enabler as I will discuss in another blog!

By Simon Norie - Co-Founder & Empathy Creation Specialist
Data led Board level Brand marketeer. Passionate about aligning Colleagues to a common purpose they can contribute too.