Earlier this month, Harvard Business Review published an article that really hit home for me. It shone a spotlight on creativity in business -- too often at odds -- emphasizing the critical role of open-mindedness in decision-making.
As I have experienced it, decision-making among business leaders is often the opposite of what you could call open or considered. Indeed, the HBR article cheekily notes that many C-levels enjoy speed as the measuring stick for growth, not thoughtful deliberation: Move fast and break things. Or, as I have heard too many times to count, "Ask for forgiveness, not permission."
The problem with this MO is that it results in, well, broken things -- including collateral damage. This, then, requires either additional attention of the decision-maker, tasked with cleaning up a mess, or those in the trenches who halt progress on key business projects so they can tidy up.
There's a simple fix here that maintains consistent productivity while spurring innovation.
Instead of speed as the measure for progress and growth, leaders should turn to five holistic questions to gauge the effectiveness of their decision-making process:
- Do my decisions consider all members of the company's community, from investors to C-suites, managers, and entry-level employees?
- Are my decisions made after considering long-term implications for the company and not just short-term gains?
- Do my decisions lean too heavily on easy answers and fail to provide truly effective solutions?
- Have I taken the opportunity to consider "outside the box" options that may differentiate my company from others and encourage innovative thinking?
- Have I, where appropriate, solicited ideas and feedback from others in the company to ensure my decisions take all perspectives into account?
These questions can be asked as part of a personal review, conducted quarterly or semi-annually, or before or after major decisions. I find it helpful to do both.
The underlying principle here is that no leader operates in a vacuum. A company is built collectively, even if decisions are ultimately made by those at the top. The best leaders consider decisions carefully, with creative open-mindedness as their guiding light.
Speed only leads to unnecessary accidents.