I leapt down the stairs three at a time and slid on to the train as the doors closed behind me. Feeling more than proud that I made it with some degree of theatre, I settled into the trip and buried my head in a book. Lost in the reading experience, I heard the gravelled voice of the announcer say, “Next stop Granville, Granville next stop.” I flew into action suddenly realising that not only was Granville not the stop I was after, Granville was on entirely the wrong train line! I had made it enthusiastically and theatrically on to the wrong train and was purposefully headed to where I didn’t want to go. The train wasn’t to blame, it made every station stop it promised. I chose the wrong starting point, and was now moving even more quickly away from my intended end point. My decision determined my direction and my direction had firmly set my destination.
Andy Stanley says, “Your direction, not your intention, determines your destination.” It’s not what I intend to do but what I am doing that’s taking me to the destination. The question leaders add to that is, “Do we want to end up where we are headed?” And “What must we do differently right now?”
Decisions are made based on the combination of what you sense in your heart and know in your head. It’s intuitive and cognitive. It’s the interaction of being uneasy and uncertain OR peaceful and convinced. Both matter. Both have validity and you’re likely to favour one decision making pathway over the other. The leadership key is knowing which one you default to and what you will need more of (head or heart) to make the wisest decisions possible.
Leaders understand that ‘decisionship’ is a critical skill to master. In practice this looks like:
- When your heart is uneasy and your head is uncertain, stop. Find clarity before you move forward.
- When your heart is peaceful and your head is uncertain, check. Verify your data and trust what it tells you.
- When your head is convinced and your heart is uneasy, feel. Seek a sense of peace and wellbeing.
- When your head is convinced and your heart is peaceful, act. Make the call and move forward.
In his book, ‘The one thing to win at the game of business’ where decisionship was ideated, Creel Price says the three parts to the decisionship accelerator are:
- Define: what is the decision that has to be made?
- Assess: what do I know (or need to know) about the decision being made?
- Decide: make the decision and write down the commitments.
The Harvard Business Review adds these Seven Steps To Faster, Better Business Decision Making, adding up to better destinations. They say:
“The methodology is described in detail in our Harvard Business Review checklist for decision making. Spending a few minutes to follow these steps each time you face a business decision will save 10 hours of discussion and drive better decisions 10 days faster. Here’s what to do:
1. Write down five business goals that will be impacted by the decision. Avoid the trap of rationalising your decision after the fact.
2. Write down at least four realistic alternatives. No other practice improves decisions more than expanding your choices.
3. Write down the most important information you are missing. Don’t let what you know distract you from what you don’t know.
4. Write down what’s likely to happen in the future, good and bad. Telling the story of what you expect will help identify similar scenarios.
5. Involve a team of at least two but no more than six stakeholders. More perspectives reduce bias and increase buy-in…up to a point.
6. Write down what was decided, why, and how much the team supports the decision to increase buy-in and set a basis to measure results.
7. Schedule a follow-up in a couple months. We tend to forget decisions after we make them, missing the opportunity make corrections and learn from what happens.”
As we pulled out of Granville, I realised my train was the “express” to as far away as I could be from my destination. We eventually stopped and I did the platform walk of shame, headed back to where I went off course, recorrected, and as Henry Ford says of failure “Began again, more intelligently.” My decision determined my direction and my direction determined my destination. The second time I was pleased to arrive.
This is for leaders. I am for leaders.