"Forget the charisma and the polished speeches. Those may have been the qualities top executives were judged on this past year…but today, with everyone predicting a more volatile year ahead, business executives are going to be graded more heavily on whether the decisions they make on everything from strategy to talent help their companies grow. They have to stop becoming experts on giving a positive spin to economic warnings and start analyzing the data at hand." ― Wall Street Journal 12/17/07
Avoiding the Blunders That Impede Your Success
Why do half of all business decisions fail? Some fail right out of the box, others can't stand the test of time. Why Decisions Fail (Paul Nutt, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2002) reports on a study of nearly 400 business decisions made by senior managers in medium to large organizations. The decisions made were based on a mix of analytical and experimental information, expert opinion, and gut feel. In half of the decisions studied, either action was not taken, or the decision made had no discernable effect on the organization two years later. Of the decisions that failed, resources were expended – time, money, personnel, or equipment – without achieving anything. In other words, half the decisions made were not robust. They were not able to withstand the uncertainty, conflict, or change common in the work environment, or they could not elicit the buy-in necessary to make them stick.
The study found three main classes of "blunders":
So, how can you make decisions that are right for your firm? How can you make robust decisions?
The most effective way to counteract these three blunders is to make sure you have a process you use to make decisions. This does not necessarily mean a rigid set of steps that you follow every time, but it does mean formal process that you can fall back on for difficult decisions and relax, as warranted, for easy ones. The process must, at a minimum, have:
Avoid the blunders that plague many decisions in today's law firms through the development of some simple "decision habits". Our workshops on "Making Robust Decisions" (see below) present a simplified approach to helping individuals and law firms establish better decision processes.
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