What is meant by an informed decision

From defensive decision-making and enthusiasts with a short breath

Do you know defensive decision-makers? You can find them everywhere, preferably in large corporations, but also in other organizations of all sizes. It is the people who analyze in detail, weigh pros and cons and do this until the decision is superfluous or in the end, despite all the analyzes - and perhaps contrary to inner conviction - not for the analytically best, but for the (for them decide yourself) the least risky option. An example of this first variant are managers who have to decide whether they want to bring a new product onto the market and postpone the decision until they are certain that it will not be a success because the competitor has now occupied the segment. The decision maker can't help it - he just analyzed it thoroughly and unfortunately the others were faster and who knows if it wouldn't have gone wrong anyway. The old saying comes to mind spontaneously: “If you don't do anything, you don't do anything wrong. The second variant Decision-makers prefer to choose a big name rather than the more suitable specialist. If something goes wrong - and something can always go wrong - it cannot have been the decision. After all, we had Big4 XYZ on board. “Cover your ass” or almost historically “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.”, As the American would say. Regardless of the form of defensive decision-making in the end, it ultimately leads to the fact that, on the one hand, the optimal decisions are rarely made and, on the other hand, the (non-) decision-maker can unfortunately too often evade responsibility.

Of course, this should not be a plea for making poorly founded decisions or pathologically rushing to take risks, but rather an encouragement to actively make decisions, to allow oneself to accept that these can also be wrong and then to correct them painfully if necessary. You can also change the saying above to: “If you don't do anything wrong, you probably won't do anything at all.” And employees and managers who do nothing will probably need you less in your company.

And then there is what feels like the opposite of the defensive decision-makers. What is meant are the enthusiasts who present a new idea in every meeting, also pull their colleagues along because of their own enthusiasm, but fail to prepare the idea to the point where it can be implemented or - after the first shine has faded - immediately come up with new ideas and to silently push the old idea aside. The problem is that these colleagues are supposedly dynamic, but in reality they leave behind a graveyard of (sometimes excellent) approaches and, with their enthusiasm, also hide the fact that they let their actual core tasks slip. In the meantime, they are making use of the capacities of their colleagues who have let themselves be inspired.

Again, this is not intended to be a plea against innovators and out of the box thinkers, but rather to point out that although good ideas can come up spontaneously (mostly even), a well-founded decision is then required to pursue or discard them. In the first case, a consistent approach is necessary. When in doubt, tackling a good idea half-heartedly is no better than pursuing a bad idea with a lot of commitment. And since time and resources are unfortunately limited, it is necessary to actively decide on selected initiatives instead of paralyzing the company with half-baked approaches.

Both defensive decision-making and the constant firing of ideas (which then peter out) are behaviors with which those responsible steal from this responsibility. In order for your company to progress and something really happens, the first step should of course be to critically reflect on your own behavior on approaches for defensive decision-making or short-lived enthusiasm. The next step is to identify the non-decision-makers and short-winded enthusiasts in the company and to hold them accountable. You should make it clear to the defensive decision-maker that you hold him responsible for decisions that have not been made or missed opportunities or, conversely, that you are ready to forgive mistakes. The best way to get the breathless enthusiast under control is to request an appropriately structured template for new initiatives and initiatives that have not been prepared consistently forbid the discussion time and then demand that the initiative be consistently pursued afterwards. Alternatively, you can afford the enthusiast as an idea generator and then just make sure that the further analysis and elaboration is consistently pursued elsewhere.

With this in mind, take the reins in your hand and combat behavior that slows development in your company.


Andreas Huthmann