When Tough Decisions Are Hard To Make…

…Flip a Coin

It’s time for all decision-makers (yes, you) to play the latest decisions-decisions game. Here’s how to play. Fill in the blanks between the brackets in the following sentence. Then drive yourself nuts trying to pick one:

To be (…) or not to be (…).

(Don’t let Prince Hamlet fool you. To be is not the question. To be is the decision. Your decision.)

Here are a few hints to get you going. To be (in the office) or not to be (in the office). To be (masked) or not to be (masked). To be (vaccinated) or not to be (vaccinated). To be (decisive) or not to be (decisive). To be (the leader they need me to be) or not to be (the leader they need me to be).

Now it’s your turn to play. But note these two rules. Playing is not optional — you may not decide to not decide. And your decisions reserve the right to go public, with or without your blessing.

Rule #1 has always applied, but Rule #2 is new. That Virus has made many decisions, and non-decisions, go viral.

Have a nice game.

Don’t Let Making a Decision Stop You Taking One

Should I make or should I take, that is the question. (free public domain: clipart-people.com)

Have you ever wondered why decisions take so long in your organization? I know, I know, the obvious answer is a lack of information. Actually, that is the common excuse.

Here are the two real reasons why. The first one is a lack of courage. Consider the difference between making and taking a decision.

Making a decision is the entire process of reaching a point where you are ready to take the decision. When you take something, it’s yours. So, once you take a decision, you own it. Whereas if you are making a decision, well, you could stretch it out indefinitely.

The other reason has to do with the hierarchy of power and authority. The steeper the pyramid, the more people get involved in a decision, which is simply another way of spreading the risk and the blame.

Oh, you’re right. That’s also just a lack of courage.

Sometimes It Is Wiser To Decide To Delay Deciding

Know when your know-all is know-nothing. (free public domain: clipart-people.com)

How exciting! We have many more months of public leaders flip-flopping, depending on whether they are addressing Mr Flippy or Mrs Floppy.

Why do leaders flip-flop? I can think of two main excuses. Only one is acceptable. When they make decisions based on information which later turns out to be incorrect or no longer applicable. Or when they won’t delay decisions that really don’t need to be made now.

Every leader must learn the skill of making decisions based on incomplete information. And then quickly learn what to do if the decisions turn out to be wrong.

I just wish that leaders will learn the really, really critical skill of knowing when to decide and when to delay deciding.

So, why don’t leaders learn this skill? Because there’s a visible difference between macho and wisdom. No macho leader will ever be wise enough to utter these words in public: “I don’t know… yet.”

When in Doubt, Flip Your Gut Decision

On the one hand… (free public domain: clipart-people.com)

I recently explained how limited your choices are to start a game of chess. You have the choice of one of two pieces. (See Nothing happens until you make a move, any old move.)

This is a good thing, else you would agonize for an age before making your move. According to psychologist William Edmond Hick, the amount of time it takes to make a decision is a function of the number of options available. The more options, the more indecision. And what does indecision lead to? Procrastination!

If you have too many options, take them two at a time. Because then you can use that amazing decision support tool, the coin flip.

Take any two options. Flip a coin. Discard the loser. Add a new option, flip and discard. Repeat until you have a winner.

Here’s the real secret to this method. If the coin flip lands you with an option that hits you in the gut, then you know that the other option is the right one for you.

It Drives Me Nuts To Take Daily Decisions Without Blame

How do I decide who to blame today? (free public domain: clipart-people.com)

I am a registered voter. What drives me nuts about politicians is their inability to take decisions. If not that, then it’s their ability to make poor decisions.

I am a capitalist consumer. What drives me nuts about business leaders is their inability to take good decisions. Because when they do make a good decision, it too often means good for them and not for me.

I am an employee working for pay. What drives me nuts about my employers is their inability to take workable decisions. Because their workable decisions invariably mean more work for me.

I am a functioning adult. What drives me nuts about being an adult is the number of daily decisions I must take. And how difficult it is to make the right one.

I wish someone would take decisions for me, someone who won’t go nuts when I blame them for poor decisions.

Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.

Originally published at https://nonsenseatwork.com on May 11, 2021.



Born in RSA winelands. Earned 3 degrees drinking red wine. Chased by lioness, ran with elephants, got bored, moved to USA seeking adventure. Ex-CEO now coach.

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James McIntosh

Born in RSA winelands. Earned 3 degrees drinking red wine. Chased by lioness, ran with elephants, got bored, moved to USA seeking adventure. Ex-CEO now coach.