Excerpt from Chapter 1 The Key to Mastering Decisions
The Value of Decision Clarity
Through my executive experience, I have come to appreciate the value of clarity in decision-making. Not only does a clear decision save time, eliminate unnecessary actions, and release energy into acting, but it also enables a leader to project commitment to a vision and allows the whole team to focus on execution, which is paramount to a successful implementation.
You cannot lead without reaching clarity first!
Clarity Enables the Leader to Project Commitment to a Chosen Path and Eliminates Confusion
When you know it's right, you'll make it right.
Most interviewed business leaders talked about the importance of getting to clarity or inner certainty about a decision as quickly as possible. It is critically important for the management team to see the leader's commitment to the chosen path. This commitment can come only when the leader unequivocally reaches a clear decision that is accompanied with an internal commitment to reaching a goal through a chosen path.
As I mentioned before, this inner certainty cannot be faked and is visible to the other people involved. What's happening on the inside shows on the outside. Seeing this commitment, the team usually puts extra effort into reaching the objective better and faster.
Clarity Saves Time and Eliminates Unnecessary Actions
Reaching the right decision quickly can save weeks or months of frustrating indecision and uncertainty. The time spent on achieving clarity pays back in solutions that reach your objective through the fastest route, eliminating unnecessary diversions. In fact, you might be surprised when you find yourself taking actions that are entirely different from what you would have done without reaching clarity first. You eliminate perhaps 80 percent or more of the unnecessary actions you would have taken. The following case demonstrates how one half hour spent in considering a decision and reaching clarity can eliminate unnecessary actions and keep you from spending months on a slower path.
Think of an objective (political, business, or personal) that you do not morally support or do not believe is achievable. Imagine that you need to lead a team to implement it. How would you do it?
What would you need to do in order to be successful? Rate your probability of success.
Doug is the CEO of a marketing company. He is also a well-known persona on radio and TV. He has been running a radio show for the last four years and has developed a brand in a particular market. However, financially, the show has not performed to his expectations. It has been around break-even from its inception, not making much money. Currently, Doug sees an opportunity to syndicate the show across the country with a potential to make a return on the time and effort that have been invested in the show.
In order for the show to become a major force in the U.S. market, however, Doug has to invest his personal time and other resources to develop the show further-a major concern for him, given his current efforts.
Disregarding this concern, he pushes ahead with his normal attitude: "We'll get it done somehow." His calendar is busy with meetings related to the show expansion and potential syndication. Doug decides to consider this situation using the clarity state decision-making process described later in the book. During the exercise, Doug realizes that there is no pressing need to expand the show now; nothing dramatic will change if he does not act on it at this time. Rather, he can focus on the current critical business efforts and get them to a successful resolution faster, and only then take on the show syndication. "Besides," he decides, "if we wait with the syndication, the opportunity to leverage the radio show across various other efforts will be much higher and might produce a much bigger impact."
Doug is a very successful, active person who, similar to many of us, likes to act on an opportunity that presents itself and becomes frustrated when he cannot do so because of time commitment to other efforts. Spending just half an hour in contemplation of the situation, he reaches a clear decision to postpone the show syndication for six months. This decision clarity is beneficial to him in three ways: a) it enables him to cross off several time-intensive action items from his todo list, thus freeing his time; b) it enables him to focus on other efforts; and c) it allows other marketing efforts within the company to mature to a point where a syndicated radio show can leverage them and, as a result, produce a much bigger impact on Doug's overall business. Was it worth reaching this clarity?
Clarity Releases Energy into Acting
Achieving clarity in a decision focuses your energy as well as the energy of your team on moving forward in executing the decision and achieving results rather than in being in a "deciding mode"-a state that many decision makers find frustrating and energy-draining. Another problem with the state of indecision that can be avoided when clarity is reached is wasting the company's resources by allowing different teams to pursue different courses of action until a clear decision is made and communicated.
Recollect your past three major decisions that you had to "wrestle" with. How long were you in the "deciding mode"? Why?
Clarity Allows Flexibility in Tactics and Implementation
When interviewed, decision makers stressed that reaching clarity usually means alignment with the vision behind the decision and not with the specifics of the implementation plan. Often, additional information becomes available after the decision is made that might require a change in the implementation tactics. The alignment with the broad objective rather than implementation details makes it easier to alter the tactics if necessary-provided, of course, that the overall implementation plan still leads to the target. As a result, a clear decision enables much more flexibility in the implementation, as opposed to cases when a decision maker just settles on a course of action without clarity.