Any time a book consists of 600 man years of experience as well 3 years of research by the authors on something as important as Decision Making, then I will defiantly invest the time to read it. Worse than that, I paid a whole $7 to get at this knowledge. I picked this book up on a whim and I can tell you that it is very good and the lessons in the book will make you a better leader and decision maker.
Why is this important to me? As usual, this can be answered by with an additional question. Would it help to have a framework for decisions? Decision Making is one of the most important skills you need to master to be successful in any endeavor. Sometimes your decisions are life changing. Most people fear making decisions. Do you know people who are wishy-washy and have a problem coming to a decision? Or what about people who can make decisions for themselves but once others are involved then they crumble. How the wise decide will help you guide yourself and your team if you are a leader or manager to making good decisions. In 1962, the world almost ended. The Cuban Missile crisis almost ended up in Nuclear War between the United States and the Soviet Union. Imagine being in the hot seat knowing that the decisions you make would have the fate of mankind on your shoulders. Needless to say President Kennedy did a great job otherwise you would not be watching this video. So in a nutshell, you will find relevant information that you can use RIGHT NOW to make better decisions.
This book is broken down into 6 relevant strategies that the 21 Leaders profiled use to make Wise decisions. For the sake of time, we will summarize each one briefly.
1. Go to the Source – When I was a kid we used to play a game called telephone. You say something to your friend and then your friend says the same thing to the next person and by the time it comes back to you, what was said is totally different. This happens all the time in organizations. There is a ton of information to be gathered, the question becomes is it the right information. People typically don’t want to pass on bad news so they will water it down as it moves up the chain to the decision maker. The key to avoiding this is to go to the source. Example: Bill George the president of Medtronic was spending his first 90 days on the job in the operating room observing his products in action. The balloon catheter he was observing today had sluggish sales. He found out first hand why when the surgeon pulled the defective part out and threw it at him and used his competitors to get the job done. Needless to say going to the source gives the correct information to fix problems.
2. Fill a Room with Barbarians – When there is a tough decision to be made then put the stack holders in a room, fight and argue until you have a good decision. Seeking and fostering decent creates two advantages. First, it forces everybody to participate and give their opinion which exposes strengths and weaknesses of each possible decision. Second, good debate can reframe the problem in a new light to come up with a better decision. People need to feel comfortable about speaking their mind and not worrying if they DON’T agree with the boss. Also, once a decision is made then EVERYBODY has to get behind it even if their choice was not picked.
3. Conquer the Fear of Risk – Psychologist Daniel Kahneman poses – “If I flip a coin and it is heads I will send you a $1,000 but if it is tails then you write me a check for $500. Most people won’t do it because they fear the loss of $500 more than the gain of $1,000 even though they should take it every time the FEAR FACTOR is too great. The key here is to UNDERSTAND RISK totally and not fear it. The more information you gather, the better the decisions.
4. Make vision your daily guide – Wise leaders know that to make the best decisions you need not only the right vision, but also the discipline to let the vision guide every decision you make, even seemingly innocuous day-to-day tactical choices.
5. Listen with Purpose – I have read countless books and I cannot stress enough that Listening is a skill you need to master to be successful. Listening with purpose means that you are prepared BEFORE the meeting and you are seeking opinions on PURPOSE. This is different than just giving your attention. You want to challenge and debate to get to the best decision but to do that you need to be prepared and you need to listen.
6. Be Transparent – What do you call a great decision that doesn’t get executed? Nothing but a dream. Decisions start by being announced. But to be executed they need to be candid about how and why they reached the decision. Telling the complete story prevents rumors and second-guessing from diverting your team’s energy and efforts. Remember you need the whole team to execute and that includes the people that were on the opposite side of the decision. Transparency is the key to getting the execution done.
90% of the value a leader provides comes from the most important and challenging 10 percent of her decisions. This means that to be an effective decision maker you need to have a proven methodology. This book helps in that endeavor.
I hope you have found this short summary useful. The key to any new idea is to work it into your daily routine until it becomes habit. Habits form in as little as 21 days. One thing you can take away and make habit is LISTENING ON PURPOSE. If you are asked to attend a meeting or do something then there is a reason for it. Be prepared and ask relevant questions. You will become an asset for your team and hone a key skill for success.