No Time Like Now



"Few days are sunny. Few days are perfect. Instead, most days have something wrong with them, us, or others. Stop waiting for perfect days and start marching forward." - Jim Collins

One of the critical things leaders do is make decisions. Whether it's about people, products, customers, whatever - fixing priorities and goals and a vision and all that stuff is really a series of decisions. The problem with that is that so many people in leadership roles either don't like or don't want to make decisions.

The main reason is really fear. Nobody wants to make the wrong decision that will hurt the company. Understandably then, leaders have convinced themselves that they need to analyse the situation until they know exactly what to do, then execute. The problem, of course, is that it's virtually impossible to ever know exactly what to do. So too many leaders don't make decisions because they aren't sure they're making the right decision.

Here's the 21st century reality: You'll never be sure you're making the right decision, if by "right" you mean 100% certain. There is no 100% certain. Maybe there wasn't in the past either, but it obviously doesn't exist now. In our era, the "right" decision means the one that you're reasonably sure is correct.

That doesn't mean that if you're pretty sure this might be a good idea, you just blindly charge in and stick with it forever. When we're forced to make decisions we aren't 100% sure of, the decision itself becomes only part of the issue. The other part then becomes agility.

We have to be agile as organisations in the 21st century. We have to be able to learn and move on quickly from failures. We have to be able to recognise when things need tweaking, and then be able to tweak them on the fly. We have to be comfortable with the idea that whatever path we're taking today might not be the right one a year from now (or sooner), and that once we recognise that we have to switch paths.

How does your business make decisions? Is everything an epic series of debates, meetings, and information gathering? Do you spend hours discussing something only to end the discussion with "Let's think about this and meet again sometime"? There is never a perfect decision to make, and there is is never a perfect time to implement it. 

So stop waiting for all that perfect stuff. Do the best you can and get going. And then be ready to change. That's decision making today and for the foreseeable future. And that's your job as a leader.


Article reproduced with the kind permission of Matt Heemstra.

Matt is a director of Cain Ellsworth & Co. LLP, USA.

For over fifteen years he has worked with small and mid-size businesses, helping them to envision their future and then make it happen.

Matt heads up Growth & Profit Solutions (GPS), a division of Cain Ellsworth.

Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash