Excerpt from Appendix B Additional Tips on Reducing Decision Complexity
Clarity of Communication
When a thought is too weak to be expressed simply, it should be rejected.
Making a decision and communicating it to the people concerned are two different things, even though they are interrelated, sometimes very tightly. Unfortunately, this interrelationship, if not consciously addressed, can block your progress on arriving at a decision.
In working with decision makers, I saw a number of cases when communication issues involved in decisions complicated decisions themselves.
It is one thing to find a solution that is aligned with a decision maker. It is a completely different thing to communicate this decision.
A lot of times, if you don't separate these two issues, the decision becomes much more complex.
Kate, the president of a public company, has worked with Amy for the last ten years. Amy has helped her in a number of tough situations with loyalty, passion, and commitment. Kate took the presidency just a few months ago, and her previous position is open. Amy believes that she is a great candidate to fill this position, and even though Kate and Amy have not talked about it, Amy behaves as if the position is hers. Kate, on the other hand, is considering bringing in a candidate from the outside. She also believes that another person on the team is actually better qualified for this position than Amy.
Kate said that the decision itself was actually easy when she realized that she preferred an internal candidate due to the steep learning curve required for the job as well as the fact that the other candidate was the better choice. Her difficulty was that she "dreaded" the moment of explaining the decision to Amy. In thinking about the decision, she also thought about the probable outcome of Amy's leaving the team after she did not receive this promotion. Because Kate continued to "wrap these things into the decision itself," the decision lingered for months, even though it was a clear decision.
Sound familiar? Actually, I've heard similar stories from decision makers a number of times. In fact, this seems to be a common mistake-not separating the decision itself from the communication of the decision.
When I asked Kate how she resolved the issue, she said that it was the focus on the business objective-it was clear to her that the other candidate was better for the job.