The inability to make a decision can be a decision in itself.
CBS will broadcast Steve Jobs interviewer, Walter Isaacson this Sunday evening. Jobs who died recently of pancreatic cancer postponed making the decision for surgery against the advice of his wife and doctors. When first discovered, Jobs was told the success rate of immediate treatment at that time was more than 95%. Yet he waited nine months before finally agreeing to surgery. The cancer had now spread to tissue around the pancreas and was no longer as easy to contain.
Decision making is what we get paid for. It is the reason people choose to work for us; to follow guidance and direction.
In his final hours, Jobs taught us a critical aspect of making decisions. Unfortunately, this resulted in something he didn’t really want.
How often do we opinion shop when presented with direction we don’t care for? Do we seek out others who support our perspective rather than surround ourselves with bright, well-experienced minds? I am blessed to have strong willed legal counsel, a creative CPA, a visionary banker; all who challenge decisions with questions of the possibilities of the outcomes I may not want. They are not naysayers, just the opposite. Questioning strategies offers light to be shed on potential pitfalls. While the ultimate decision is mine, surrounding myself with wisdom and talent only pays off if I listen to their ideas and questions, not stay fixated on my own agenda. Find wise advisors and then follow their insight.
Being a highly analytical person who wants gallons of data before marching, I relate to Jobs postponing the surgery, pursuing alternative, less invasive options. However, waiting killed him. How many times does postponing a decision prolong agony and at times increase the pain. In a previous post, What happens When You Fall Off the Horse I pointed out that the decision to getting back on wasn’t as difficult as taking action. Yet action was the true catalyst to a successful outcome.
Today more than ever, those who chose to follow the leader are attracted to decisive action. Esther, our team lead who has worked with me for over 13 years, quietly prodded one day when I was stalled on a project, “Mike, is this an example of paralysis by analysis?” The next day we had an action plan in place and implemented a new strategy.
Seek wise counsel and act. Given hindsight which is no longer available, I believe Steve would have made a different decision. Whatever challenges you are trying to guide your team through, how can you encourage them to not wait until it is too late.