Election 2016: How not to make decisions

Regardless of who you voted for, or who you want to win, America has a terrible way of selecting a new leader. Some of this is inevitable in an organization with over 300,000,000 people. Some of it is a vestige of the strange beginnings of the United States, the electoral college, leading almost inevitably to the 2 party system that the founding fathers would have hated as much as we do today.

There are plenty of decent and/or intelligent and/or practical things that we could do, as a country to make the process better. Unfortunately, most of this will be lost in a partisan mess.

I don’t want to be cynical about it, but I do want to focus on what is actually under our control– how we make decisions in our own companies. These are not typically straight up or down votes, but they often resemble the electoral college system– you can’t move the company forward without winning over key people, even if you are the owner.

Here are some tips from this awful election on things to avoid:

  • Don’t lose sight of the vision. So much of the election has been “my opponent is terrible. Whatever you do, don’t let them destroy the country.” Too many corporate disagreements end up this way, with ego on the line instead of results. What is this election about? I don’t even know. No one seems to care. They have picked their side and that’s all that matters. If you like the Yankees, you root for the Yankees, even if the Red Sox have a better way to handle runners at first and third with one out. If you root for the Red Sox, it’s the same way. A lot of business decisions end up the same way– you feel obliged to support certain positions because you feel loyalty to the people, rather than the outcome.
  • Don’t waste too much energy on the decision itself. American presidential elections are ridiculously long, expensive, and devoid of substance. There’s a huge waste of productivity without anything productive actually happening. How many meetings have you attended that are like this? How many have you actually instigated? How much time is wasted if you pull key people from your team for an hour? 2? 4? Without moving the ball forward?

Set a clear agenda for making a decision: Why is this important? What information do we need to make the decision? How will we decide? Then just do it. Stay focused on the outcome, not the people and personalities.

Comments are closed.