Sunday, May 15, 2011

Making the Correct Decision

In matters of business or running the affairs of any group of people, always remember the Golden Rule: It's not what is decided that matters the most, it is how things are decided that counts!

This is such an important message that I am so surprised that it seems few people remember or even know it. Whenever dealing with an group of people in a social or business setting, it is always so important to keep this in mind! 

It's not what is decided that matters the most, it is how things are decided that really counts!

When things are decided, without consulting with all the people involved, you take a huge risk of missing the entire picture. You take a huge risk of getting people angry or demotivating them. This is a terrible mistake to make at work. You must get the opinion of everyone involved. You must make everyone feel that they are important and that their opinion counts.

This doesn't mean that everything is a democracy and everyone must agree with every decision, it merely means that, in order to increase the chances of your success, you must make everyone feel a part of the decision making process.

Here's an example that I have heard somewhere:

You are the president of a small company that makes toasters. Sales are down and your company solvency are on the line. To fix this situation and return your company to health and profitablility will take a mighty effort from everyone at your company. 

As president, you must decide the new model that your company will manufacture and sell for the new season starting next year. You look at all the different models that you might manufacture. You check them for production cost per unit and  a profitability and then make a decision on which model to manufacture.

Have you made the right choice? Perhaps. Did you choose wisely? No. You would have greatly increased your chances for success if you had included all your staff in the decision making process.

If this is the best design and the model that your company needs to make it into profitability again, then why didn't you consult with, for example, Sales and Promotion department? After all, these are the people who daily are out on the field and talking with customers, buyers and checking the competition.

Not asking their opinion is the best way to make them think that you don't care about what they think and you do not value their ideas. Employees who think the boss doesn't care what they think are demotivated employees. Demotivated employees - especially in the Sales Department, will not go that extra step to make the sales that the company needs.

If your choice is the best machine, then why wouldn't you involve them in the decision making process? Of curse, not everyone needs to agree on one specific model, but everyone needs to feel that they are being heard, that their opinion counts, and that they are  a valued member of the team.

Regardless of the model that your company choose to make, if you involve everyone in the decisions process, make them feel wanted, heard and respected, then they will feel responsible. If your staff feel responsible towards the success of the project, then they will just go that extra mile to make sure it is a success. And that is what your company needs.

It is often the difference between a successful company and a failure: The successful company has employees who feel valued and feel that their ideas and opinions are heard and respected.

So don't forget the Golden Rule: It's not what is decided that matters the most, it is how things are decided that counts!


Murasaki Shikibu said...

Good point. I like the way you explained it too. Besides the point you made it is also possible that even after looking at the quantitative figures, you don't know the qualitative reasons behind the figures. It certainly wouldn't hurt to talk to your employees first before you jump to conclusions.

Marc Sheffner said...

This is how things work in Japan, and so, for Japan, this is good advice. Does it hold true elsewhere? Perhaps others more knowledgeable than me can comment.

Andy "In Japan" said...

As a former top manager of a Fortune 500 company I can say with certainty that Mike is exactly right about this. You have to get people engaged and on board with any project, and besides that, by hearing them out beforehand you can get some great ideas.

I have worked for Americans who don't consult with people up front AND they don't even tell them about the decision after it has been made. Talk about spirit crushing.

My impression is that Japanese take great care in the decision making process, whereas most managers in America simply dictate what they want, without getting any prior feedback from people who will be effected. This may go a long way to explain the superiority of Japanese manufacturing.

All I would add is that this very same concept regarding the decision making process is also true at home, with family members.

Poots said...

Great points about getting other people involved in the decision making process.

When you involve other people they actually will feel an obligation to the success of whatever it is you are doing. They are all a part of it. Simply dictating what is to be done usually has the opposite effect and as someone pointed out in the earlier comments it is all too common in what passes for management in the US today.

A third point that could be added for a possible future discussion is ‘when’ you make a decision.

To me, you make a decision when it has to be made and you base that decision on the best information that you have at that time. If time and events show that it was the wrong decision then the answer to that is simple. You correct it by making (dare I say it?) another decision.

The self confidence that is required to correct an incorrect earlier decision is also another valuable trait sorely missing from management in the US today. And boy does it show…