After writing my last blog post, Your Past Informing Your Present, I thought about how your present might inform your past. Yes, that’s not the usual way we go; however there is something to it.
If you look at your past actions, attitudes and decisions from the vantage point of now, there’s a good chance you are wiser and more experienced than you were then. Evaluating past actions is a practice of continuous improvement, if you do it well.
You carry your past throughout your life. Why not use it to your advantage? What might you have done differently in the past, if you knew what you know today?
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Loomio software is a collaborative decision-making tool that fits well into the concept of Free Flow Management. Loomio “enables more transparency and inclusion in decision-making with fewer meetings and e mails”. Its online platform facilitates gathering people, on-topic conversations, visual summaries and clear outcomes.
How does your organization make decisions? Would you say your decisions flow freely or are you bogged down in meetings and email? Our new methods of communication have their advantages, but we do get bogged down with them. New decision-making approaches are called for. It is time well spent for your organization to look at the efficiency and flow of your decision-making and find innovative ways to keep your programs and processes flowing smoothly.
Indecision is tough. Everyone, in varying degrees, experiences it. You need time to make a decision – that’s a given. However indecision, if allowed to go on too long, can paralyze you.
How can you get through indecision? Here are a few ideas:
• Give yourself a break. Your decisions are not set in stone. They are only set in the present moment, with the information you have available to you. Know that your past decisions do not own you. You can change a decision if things change in the future.
• Trust yourself that you are ready to make a decision. Your mind may play games telling you that you are not capable or ready, but you are.
• Do your best to let go of an expectation that you will make a perfect decision. Such a thing doesn’t exist. You can strive to make the best decision possible for you and that is pretty good.
• Do your best to identify your fears regarding a decision. What is the nature of your fear? Is it real or made-up? Figure out how can you confront any fears you encounter. Act in spite of the fear, knowing that you have thought the decision out as best you can.
You alone walk your journey. Only you can keep your feet moving on your path. Walk at the pace that works for you and keep yourself in motion.
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Always, there are multiple ways to view things. Keep this in mind, when you get into a difficult situation. Take a moment and step away. Identify the lens you are looking through and try out other ways of looking at the situation. Stepping back and identifying multiple ways to view a situation allows you to breathe, to innovate and to find your best path forward.
Some see chance and risk as the same thing. However, there can be differences between them. Both chance and risk involve uncertainty and possibility. In the business world today, risk is often calculable, whereas chance is less so. There are concrete and in-depth ways to measure risk before deciding on a course of action. With chance, you measure based on assumptions, with a bit less calculation and certainty.
You can use these concepts of chance and risk to take a look at how you make decisions. When uncertainty exists or all the information you need is not available, do you think things out, consider all factors and calculate risk or do you make assumptions and generally calculate the chances of various outcomes?
The next time you have a decision to make, without certainty of the outcome, will you leave your decision to chance or calculate the risks involved and choose the best course available?
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Collaboration is not the easiest means of managing and decision-making. However, it is the most effective. The best collaborations give all members a full seat at the table. Each person’s voice is heard and respected, disagreements are fully aired and considered and when decisions are made, they are made for the betterment of the collaboration, not just of one or more individuals.
This model can work. People, generally, are reasonable and rational and know that not every decision can go in their favor. It may take a bit more time and patience, but it is worth it. Trouble comes in when organizations go hierarchical and dictatorial in their decision-making. Or, when a sub-group, such as younger people, is disregarded. Some feel that because young people do not have the years of experience that older members have, they do not need to be listened to. They should have a full seat at the table and be valued for the unique insight, fresh ideas and enthusiasm they bring to a group.
Next time you are collaborating, give each team member a full seat at the table. You will reap the benefits of better decision-making, happier team members and creative and long-lasting results.
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Myopic: Lack of discernment or long-range perspective in thinking or planning.
You have often read in this blog about the importance of living in the present moment. There’s no question that living in the present moment keeps you centered. However, that does not preclude looking long-range on a regular basis. You don’t want to be myopic – it does not serve you.
A long-range perspective increases your vision and preparedness for the future. It allows you to prepare for what may come. You can start from the present moment and look ahead at the potential results and consequences of your decisions and actions. Run any decisions or actions you are contemplating out a few years and use your critical mind and imagination to vision what your decision or action could look like at that time. Then, let your vision inform the present moment, as you move forward.
You can live in the present and, at the same time, be wise for the future. Let your vision grow and see grander vistas as you manage.
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The opportunity to create a space in which to think is viewed as a luxury these days. However, taking the time to think things out ensures better outcomes and often saves you the time of redoing or repairing past decisions.
Do you take the time to think things out? If not, what are the reasons why – it slows things down, it is too much effort or it takes too much time? What is the last major decision you made as a manager? Did you think it out? How do the results of your decision relate to the time you took to think it out?
Taking the time to think things out often results in your interests being better served, anticipation of obstacles or problems that may result from your decision, getting the facts you need to make the best decision for you and your organization and avoidance of unanticipated consequences. Thinking things out may take time, but it is time well spent.
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Recently, I was coaching with a manager who encountered a serious business situation. Her response would have significant affect on her future and the future of her company. She was wise enough to know that a hasty reply to the e-mail she received would not be the best way forward. At the same time, she was concerned and wanted to get the situation under control quickly. She decided she needed to sleep on it and give herself time to determine the best strategy in the situation. She did exactly that. I was impressed with her self-control and acumen in a difficult situation. The next day she responded to the e mail in a very powerful way and knew clearly how she wanted to proceed.
Centering is the focusing of your attention and also the alignment of mind, body and emotion to a specific purpose. When you are in your center, you are at your best. The process of regaining your center when you have lost it, often takes some time. The time you take is well worth it. Centering is good business strategy. When you operate from your center, your decisions, communication and performance have the best chance of succeeding and serving your interests.
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Managers make decisions within uncertainty daily. Sometimes, critical decisions made within uncertainty involve high risk for a manager. When I worked as a manager at The US Environmental Protection Agency, one of our team’s most challenging projects was to develop guidance for scientists and regulators addressing decision making under uncertainty. In the project, we put a lot of our focus on the assumptions scientists and regulators made for each decision. Good assumptions can mitigate the risks inherent in decision making within uncertainty. Ideally, you have the time to make solid, well-researched assumptions, but that is not always possible. So, what do you do? Fly by the seat of your pants? No, you do the best you can in the time available to you. Some strategies for making critical decisions in uncertainty: bring your team together and use all your brainpower to identify first the unknowns involved and then the risks; devise the best course of action in the time available to you; document the assumptions and identified risks involved in your decision; get the concurrence of upper management both on your decision and on going forward within uncertainty. The unknown can become a bit more known with time, but will often remain, and decisions must be made. Get as comfortable as you can with uncertainty. Create a strategy that helps you deal within it.
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