Fail Fast & Fix It Faster

Roosevely on Decisiveness

As a leader and entrepreneur, there is nothing I hate more than to see a leader who can’t make a decision. In my career, I have seen dozens of good people get stuck in “paralysis by analysis” while searching for the perfect answer. In business, there is rarely a time when you have all the needed information to make a fully informed decision.

The fog of war is a term used to describe the uncertainty in situational awareness experienced by military leaders in battle.  It’s a real problem for business leaders as well. Many times, the data needed to make a good decision isn’t available or doesn’t exist. When faced with this high level of uncertainty, many leaders just do nothing and that’s the worst thing they can do.

Not making the tough decisions creates a toxic environment in the organization. People get frustrated, conflict increases, and uncertainty grows when the path isn’t clear. By failing to make a decision for fear of getting it wrong, the leader actually creates more problems for the team.

As a leader, being decisive is critical. Your job is to make the tough calls and establish the direction for your team.  It’s important to gather the information and to listen to the debate but, in the end, you have to make the decision…even though you might be wrong.

If you are wrong, that’s OK. Now you know what the right choice is. In the Navy, we used to call it the “50/50/90” problem. If there’s a 50/50 decision to make, 90% of the time you will make the wrong choice. In 20+ years of leading industrial businesses, I’ve made a number of wrong decisions. The good thing about a mistake is that you can fix it quickly.

Leaders need to make the call, be decisive, and watch for the results of that decision. If the decision turns out to be wrong, be quick to change course and get on the right track. The faster you fail, the quicker you can get on the right track for success.

What do you think? Have you worked for a leader who was indecisive? What was that like? What are the downfalls of being too decisive? What are the kind of decisions that need to be considered more carefully? Let me know in the comment section below.

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