Sunday, 28 August 2011 00:00

Indecision: The Graveyard Of Good Intentions

Rate this item
(0 votes)

"People say I am indecisive, but I am not so sure about that." I have seen this quote attributed to a former US President, but I doubt he actually siad this. First, it is too intelligent a comment for him and, second, he is far from indecisive. The liberal pundits trying to attribute that quote to him confuse indecision with defective decision making. You can figure out who the President is on your own; however, it is irrelevant. This article is about leadership not politics. Organizations confronted with a decision-challenged individual in a leadership role, is adrift in the sea of serendipity. They bobble around having no direction.

The Problem With Indecision

 

Indecision is worse than a bad decision. With direction, even poor direction, the individuals affected can properly plan the decision's execution, understand its risk, develop mitigations, and define contingencies when its plans start to falter. Rivals to the direction do the same, obviously, in an opposing manner. The result is a set of critical plans covering nearly all aspects of a decision—regardless of the decision's quality. Indecision denies the framework for proper planning. It leaves everyone unprepared to suffer the consequences of fate, removing their ability to influence the result to fit the stakeholder's requirements.

Fear of the Poor Decision

The source of paralyzed pronouncements is the fear of a poor decision. Affected individuals, with the best of intentions, hide their fright behind two general behavioral traits—ignorance and over analysis.

With blissful ignorance, also known as unrealistically optimism, the hope is that everything will work out based on the misguided belief that there really are no problems. In this situation, the realist is considered negative, a pessimist, disruptive to the team, and is usually banished from the organization. In the end, this is the best outcome for the realist. Otherwise, they are condemned to eternal frustration and, if their prognostications become reality, they wear the blame for their "self-fulfilling prophecy." No one wins.

The opposing trait is deferring the decision in anticipation that new specks of data will create an irrefutable edict. Analyze, collect data, analyze more, and search for more data. The typical scenario brings in consultant after consultant to assess the problem and leaders wait for the answer they want to hear. Meanwhile, time ticks away and fate takes its toll.

Good Decisions Do Not Preclude Change

Poor leaders do not make bad decisions; poor leaders refuse to admit weaknesses in their decisions thereby failing to correct the flaws. By acknowledging that a decision has faults, leaders create an environment that fosters critical thinking. This is an environment that reinforces every aspect of success: critical thinking prior to the decision, wide spread support of the decision, and development of mitigation plans when weaknesses are found in the decision. Most importantly, when (not if) flaws are found in the decision, it provides the platform for non-accusatory change. The result is that lessons are learned in an atmosphere devoid of blame. Everyone wins.

Affecting Change

Understanding the reasons for the indecision is fundamental in affecting change. Attempting to push the eternal optimist to accept reality or convince the consternated analyst that the data is conclusive, is fruitless. You must define an alternate route. The only avenue to address the issue is your ability to objectively lead.

It takes a leader to make effective decisions. The person's position or rank is irrelevant. The leader is identified, in part, by their ability to make and be accountable for decisions, to assemble a team to assist in the definition, execution, and continued critical evaluation of the decision.

Accountability, though, is the most critical trait. It earns trust from the team and the stakeholders. It is contagious. Peers and subordinates will step up and model the behavior. In short, accountability subverts a superior's indecision. It imbues leadership below the consternation and drives the organization forward.

Read 13847 times

Related items

  • Strategy-Execution Gaps

    The statistics on strategy execution are dismal:

    • 59% of middle managers fail at resolving conflicts in corporate strategy.
    • 45% of middle managers cannot name one of the top five corporate goals.
    • 64% of cross department/functional issues are poorly resolved.

    And maybe as you could expect from this:

    • 53% of companies cannot react timely to new opportunities.

    You do not need to be a rocket scientist to know that this trajectory is not going to launch most companies’ latest strategic plans successfully. In fact, these data might make you feel that middle management would be better suited as test dummies for the next generation of manned space-vehicle. Granted, the data show there is a dearth of leadership in middle management, but executive tier has a culpable hand.

  • Success vs Culture

    The other day a Latvian student contacted me for my views the connection between culture and success criteria—an important and intriguing topic. After working in Taiwan, Singapore, Korea, Japan, Israel, United States, and Canada, I wear many scars of both blatant and subtle cultural violations. I also know that within a culture one person's success is often another person's failure. So, after dispelling concerns about clicking on some random email link, I completed her survey (please feel free to take it yourself). In the process, I struck up a friendship with the student, Kristine Briežkalne, who is studying at Riga International School of Economics and Business Administration . She has some interesting views and presented me with a Venn diagram showing four frames to a project (business, client, project management, and growth perspectives) and how they intersected. As the diagram is part of her Master's thesis, I will let you ponder the how to label the overlapping areas (an eye-opening exercise).

  • Kill The White Knight

    There is a reason we do not teach classes on fixing failing projects. Many a cynic feels that we simply do not want to teach our trade, however, our reason is far nobler—we should be teaching prevention rather trying to create white knights to save the day. It is the same philosophy as building a fence at the cliff's edge rather than an emergency room at its base. Our language is replete with idioms telling us to look past the symptom and address problems at their root cause. 'An ounce of prevention versus a pound of cure' or 'a stitch in time saves nine.' Please, feel free to supply your own in the comments. Unfortunately, most of our businesses loathe this philosophy, waiting to address an issue until it is irrefutably broken.

  • Comparing Organizational Change Management Models

    A few weeks ago, I set out to write a post on the comparison of various organizational change management (OCM) methodologies and realized that would be a disservice to my readers. It would simply drag you down the path of implementation while failing to focus you on building the foundation. The pressure was too much and I have relented to numerous requests on making that comparison. The caveat is that juxtaposing these models is not comparing different varieties of oranges or even apples and oranges; we are surely comparing the peel to the fruit they contain. Hence, comparing methodologies like Kotter's model (the peel), Prosci's ADKAR (the core), and General Electric's Change Acceleration Process (the whole fruit) need a different approach.

  • The Executive-Project Manager Gap

    It was such an innocuous question, "Working on an article; what is the biggest problem you see with project governance at orgs? Can you comment?" Can I comment? Really? That is like cheese to a mouse. Where could I start—bureaucracy, draconian process, poor executive sponsorship, disengaged leaders? Plenty of fodder, because they all lead to project failure. I fired off, "Creating an over bureaucratic morass stifling innovation & implementing process instead of cultivating leaders." Then the maelstrom started and it went directly to the gap between the executives and projects managers. Naomi Caietti, Robert Kelly and I had a great conversation. Most of the thread is below.

Leave a comment

Filling Execution Gaps

Available Worldwide

Filling Exectution Gaps cover

Filling Execution Gaps is available worldwide. Below are some options.

 

PG DirectLogo
Limited Time Price $20.99
Amazon logo
Book or Kindle
Flag of the United States Canadian Flag Flag of the United Kingdom Irish Flag Deutsche Flagge
Drapeau Français Bandiera Italiana PRC flag
Japanese flag
Bandera de España
Flag of India
Bandera de México
Bandeira do Brasil
Flag of Australia
Vlag van Nederland
DeG Press Logo
Barnes and Noble Logo
Books a Million Logo
Booktopia Logo
Worldwide: Many other
book sellers worldwide.

Rescue The Problem Project

Internationally acclaimed

Image of RPP

For a signed and personalized copy in the US visit the our eCommerce website.

Amazon logo
Buy it in the United States Buy it in Canada Buy it in the United Kingdom
Buy it in Ireland Buy it in Germany Buy it in France
Buy it in Italy Buy it in the PRC
Buy it in Japan
Book sellers worldwide.

Upcoming Events

Other's References

More Info on Project Recovery

Tell me More!

Please send me more information
on fixing a failing project.

Sitemap