Lessons from a video game

Probably like many of you, I have a simple video game on my iPad that I will sometimes go to for a time of simple distraction. It is fun, mildly challenging, and I have not become addicted to it. In playing this game, it has come to my mind that it is a simple illustration of a challenge that leaders face daily.

How do you make decisions that are both fast and right? At what level of confidence do you make the decision? Is your focus on the right thing / area or are you distracted from something important going on in a different domain of your responsibilities?

The game I play is one where you match up jewels of a certain type into different combinations. The better the combinations and their locations the better the score, but while you are trying to make that decision, the clock is ticking as well. If you hesitate too long, the opportunity is gone!

Sometimes I will be moving fast and making quick decisions and missing opportunities for higher scoring opportunities, sometimes I hesitate too long and run out of time in the overall game, sometimes I am so focused on one area of the screen that I miss opportunities in other ares of the screen. It reminds me so much of making decisions as a leader.

You have to learn to be able to shift from a tactical to a strategic view quickly, you have to learn the consider (quickly) the second and third order consequences of your decisions, you have to learn to not be so focused on just one aspect of our business that you miss opportunities or looming challenges in another domain of your business.

Finally, you have to become comfortable with understanding that you will never know all the facts and that you have to make a decision or time will run out and the decision will be made by default.

Practice to learn how to make decisions fast and right.

“Don’t Make Decisions, Orchestrate Them”

“Don’t Make Decisions, Orchestrate Them”

“Is the role of the manager to make decisions, or to make sure that decisions get made? The answer, of course, is both — but many managers focus so much on the first role that they neglect the second. The reality, however, is that decision-making often is not a solo activity, but rather an orchestrated process by which the manager engages other people in reaching a conclusion. Doing this effectively not only improves the quality of the decision, but also ensures that everyone is more committed to its implementation.”

helping your team make decisions

Making good decisions is a critical skill for people everyone and especially leaders. Yet, we often have not been trained how to make decisions and we also fail to train other in how to make decisions.

There are many tools out there for you to learn from as well as to train your team. One good resource is the Decision Making Techniques section of MindTools.com.

Also, Kouzes and Posner, in their book  A Coach’s Guide To Developing Exemplary Leaders, recommend asking these questions of your team when you are helping them make decisions:

  • How do you see . . . ?
  • What if we . . .?
  • What do you think about . . .?
  • How do you believe we could . . .?
  • Have you ever . . .?

These questions are good starters for conversations about how people make choices about their work.

The key thing to remember is that there is a science to making decisions. It is a skill to be learned and to be taught. It doesn’t just happen. So become a skilled craftsman and an accomplished teacher in the science (and art) of decision-making.

Blessings on you day!

Some Questions to Develop Your Team

Is your team operating at a level that satisfies you?  Are they growing in their ability to make effective and wise decisions and then execute them?

Often times the “cap” on our teams performance is us.  Often when they come to us with a situation that needs a decision we quickly make it for them (we like to make decisions and we’re good at it right?).  The problem is, that often instead of helping them, we have actually disempowered them and taken ownership of the challenge away from them.

So try adding these questions to your “portfolio” to use with your team members.  I believe you will enjoy the growth that you see as a result.

What do you think we ought to do?

What are your two or three suggestions for this issue?

How do you see . . .?

What if we . . .?

Have you ever considered . . .?

How would you handle this situation? Why?

What do you think is keeping us from moving forward?

The key is, after you ask – LISTEN!!  And act on their suggestions as often as you can.  Remember, we want them to be the hero – not us.

By the way – check out MindTools for some great decision making tools – just click here.

Blessings on your day from a very hot southwest Michigan!

Twelve Questions That Could Improve Your Team’s Decision Making

Biases can and do distort our reasoning – especially when making important decisions.  Things such as confirmation bias, anchoring, loss aversion, and etc.  These cognitive biases and others have the potential for distorting our judgment.

In an article in the Harvard Business Review, “Before You Make That Big Decision . . .” the authors suggest a “decision quality control checklist” of 12 questions to use to help discover defects or biases in the decision-making process.

“Is there any reason to suspect motivated errors or errors driven by the self-interest of the recommending team?

Have the people making the recommendation fallen in love with it?

Were there dissenting opinions within the recommending team? (NOTE – regardless of its cause, an absence of dissent in a team addressing a complex problem should sound an alarm)

Could the diagnosis of the situation be overly influenced by salient analogies? (In other words, is it too heavily tied to a past success story?)

Have credible alternatives been considered?

If you had to make this decision again in a year, what information would you want, and can you get more of it now?

Do you know where the numbers came from? (Are the numbers fact or just estimates? Who put the first number on the table?)

Can you see a halo effect?

Are the people making the recommendation overly attached to past decisions?

Is the base case overly optimistic?

Is the worst case bad enough? (Check out the post on the “premortem” – click here)

Is the recommending team overly cautious?”

These questions can be a powerful tool in rooting out defects in thinking of a decision making team.

Blessings on your week!