We’ve been asked by many of our customers for periodic, no-nonsense emails with just-in-time information for managers and knowledge workers on how organizations work. This is our 1st issue of 2007 and we hope you enjoy it.
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What We're Reading
The Go Point. Michael Useem, Crown Publishing, 2006
The Go Point is that moment in decision making where you take action because you’ve made a decision. The author, a Wharton School professor, has provided helpful templates for a wide variety of decision-making topics. For example:
- How do you prepare to make urgent decisions,
- How to widen your net of resources,
- How do you learn to look ahead,
- How to transcend your self interests, and
- How to evaluate decisions.
He uses examples, from Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg in the Civil War to surviving a plane crash in the Andes to wilderness fire fighters. I found it very interesting and filled with useful tools. You can even try out some decisions and access his web site www.TheGoPoint.com for answers.
Why is Decision Making So Important?
Seems like an obvious question and if you asked most people if they know how to make a decision they would say yes. Yet the scores from a wide variety of teams on the decision making items in our Team Trust & Collaboration Assessment (TTCA) tell a different story.
For example, here are some scores (1=strongly disagree; 2=disagree; 3=agree; 4=strongly agree) averaged from all TTCA's:
- 2.91 - This team evaluates multiple alternatives before an important decision is made.
- 2.42 - Before we make an important team decision, we brainstorm what could go wrong.
- 2.68 - This team takes the time to ask, "what other perspectives should we make sure we hear" before a final decision.
- 2.78 - This team takes the time to vigorously share all our opinions before an important decision is made.
Since all of these scores represent an average response between "agree" and "disagree", the data tells me that a lot of people could benefit from a broad reassessment of their current decision making processes. You will find a lot of helpful ideas in The Go Point in each area represented by the items.
After Action Reviews
Probably the most helpful way to increase the quality of your decision making is to institute an After Action Review (AAR). The US military has been the best practice leader in this area for years. The key to effective AAR is to use them to learn what to do differently rather than to find people to blame. This ultimately results in people being willing to speak up about what they know before a decision has been made, which results in ‘widening the net of knowledge’ in Useem’s terms.
Simple After Action Reviews answer 4 questions:
- What was expected to happen?
- What actually happened?
- Why the difference?
- What can we learn from this in order to do things differently next time?
Based on the results of all Team Trust & Collaboration Assessments, AARs are not common. In particular, the item that measures AARs is: This team takes the time to review completed projects as a way to learn what to do differently next time. The average score across a wide variety of teams is 2.44 (1=strongly disagree; 2=disagree; 3=agree; 4=strongly agree).
Enroll Now We've added four TeleClasses for those who need just-in-time learning to broaden their decision making skills:
- The Good Fight: Why Amiability is the Enemy of Innovation (Feb. 15, 11 AM EST; Mar. 19, 11 AM EST)
- Deciding How to Decide (Feb. 15, 11 AM EST; Mar. 19, 11 AM EST)
- Groupthink: Who’s Acting as our Mindguard? (Jan. 30, 12 Noon EST)
- The Courage to Speak Up: How to Assess Risk & How to Say It (Feb. 22, Noon EST; Mar. 27, 11 AM EST)
Thanks for your interest and support.
Sue Annis Hammond