Agile Directing - Johda ketterästi
Shift the focus from decision making towards implementation
Saturday 9/13/14 time 12:11 PM
Managing is making decisions. Challenging is the fact that the world is changing rapidly. Things and people are changing. Our feelings are changing. We should, as a matter of fact, be able to predict the future in order to make accurate decisions. Some people trust on the dictum that this moment is the best estimate of the future. There could not be a sillier phrase! The future has probably nothing to do with this moment.
For some reason, I always recall an old very stupid joke about Finnish composer Jean Sibelius in these discussions, as her wife asked when he will come home (from the bar). Sibelius answered “How could I know? I am a composer not a predictor”. This one still amuses me as much every time.
People use enormous amount of time in making decisions. The world is full of various decision making models and tools which are assumed to be adapted in diverse situations. There are at least three important things to remember (e.g. Pfeffer):
Consequently, it seems evident that the focus in management training and practice has been misplaced. Rather than spending enormous amounts of effort in the decision-making process, it would be at least not less useful to contribute in implementing decisions and in working with further adjustments.
Biases on decision making
Hence, it is close to impossible to assess on beforehand if the solution is correct or not. Maybe we will never find it out. The feeling is very oppressive if we need to make a quick decision which cannot wait for verifications on verifications. In the worst case, we are so afraid that we cannot make that decision. We forget that not to make a decision is, indeed, a decision as well. On the other hand, waiting in peace can actually be a good choice especially if the underlying issue concerns something vital and irreversible.
It should also be noted that some factors which we assume having heavy impact typically occurs much less severe due to the counterforces.
On top of all, if we had appropriate tools and even a group of specialists and we had plenty of time to analyse the premises, we still have several uncertainty factors related to the human mind which time after time lead to major misjudgements. In my earlier Finnish writing I presented professor of decision making Spyros Markidakis’s (2000) list of the biases which we tend to fall into:
One could think, based on the list, that it would be wise to involve a big group of people in planning in order to diversify the risks of our misjudgements. But in reality, the misjudgements can accumulate by then, since we have, in actual fact, just more delusional persons involved.
“The common sense is full of experience even though it has never tried anything"
The major pitfalls: rational thinking and power relations
Unfortunately, one remarkable reason why people are involved in decision making in so large numbers without increasing the quality of the decision is the fear of firings. All too often I hear that someone has been fired based on “a failed decision”. Yet, it is quite impossible to assess in light of this moment if the decision made in light of the past moment were false. That is actually a quite absurd question. Besides, it is much more probable that the fault is in implementation.
If I now had to mention 2 most significant mistakes or cornerstones in strategic management process, they are the following ones:
Despite of the fact that I am neither a composer nor a predictor, I am going to the bar, anyway. Yes! In Helsinki the sun is shining perfectly. I have been working on the data analysis for my dissertation long enough now and really beginning to act like a ghost while in the same time I get scared when I walk past a mirror. “But, I feel alright." :-D