WHERE WE GO in life is determined by the choices we make. How we make those decisions becomes critical. The speed of change, the abundance of choices, the unknown unknowns, and the impact of a connected world, all conspire to make decision-making a labyrinth. We face traps everywhere.
In Labyrinth: The Art of Decision-Making, Pawel Motyl examines “The most prevalent weak spots in decision-making processes, not only in business but in life in general; during crisis and calmer times; in both individual and group decisions.”
I agree with Motyl that “We really do live in a world where everything is out of whack and everything we thought we knew is being called into question.” It calls for a deeper look at not just what we think, but more importantly how we think and a clear understanding of how we got there.
Motyl digs into the series of decisions that led to some of the modern world’s most dramatic events: from the Cuban missile crisis to the 1996 Mount Everest climbing disaster; from the Apollo 13 rescue mission to the ill-fated Daimler–Chrysler merger.
Using many and varied examples Motyl reveals 16 rules for effective decision-making. The rules with the accompanying narrative are well-researched and intriguing. Here is the overview:
Prepare for a black swan (an unpleasant surprise or event that we cannot predict from prior experience), because one thing is certain: sooner or later you will meet one. Because of easy access to information and globalization, black swan events are on the rise.
The better it’s going, and the more successful you are, the more you are at risk of turkey syndrome. The deeper you fall into turkey syndrome, the nastier your black swan will be.
The more you admire someone, the more critically you should examine their opinions. The more exciting somebody’s vision seems, the more closely you should test its foundations in reality. This fundamental misunderstanding comes into play here: “a harmonious group = a tight group = an effective group”
The more everyone around insists something is impossible, the more you should check it yourself. Several times.
The greater the investment of time, effort, money, and our own reputation, the harder it is to objectively assess a situation and make the right decision.
If you find yourself in a black swan situation, go into inquiry mode. Whatever your intuition or experience is telling you may be wrong.
Set up your own Executive Committee. Surround yourself with people who don’t think like you. Value those who disagree with you, and who aren’t afraid to say it.
When improving and organization, also pay attention to the best and most efficient processes. In a black swan situation, they can fail. Do you have a backup plan?
Shoot down Concordes and hunt for monkey habits. Eliminating loss-making projects and bad practices frees up time for other things, increasing a company’s agility and flexibility.
Recognize the value of your failures (and those of others). Thoroughly analyze your past failures and draw in depth, objective, and actionable conclusions for the failure.
Never stop shaping the organizational culture. It can be your greatest ally, or your worst enemy, in making the right decisions.
Great leaders are distinguished by their awareness that greatness is no guarantee of infallibility.
Don’t be a “decision drunk”—use data for illumination, not only for support. Data can be a great ally, when properly analyzed.
Never ignore the values and convictions of other generations, especially those only just entering the market. Even if their influence on decision-making today is minimal, the new normal means this may change sooner than you expect.
The world of data overload is also a word of new possibilities. Actively seek out opportunities to engage a cost-free force that can radically improve the quality of your decision-making.
Encourage and create leaders around you. Dispersed leadership involves many people, which means there is less risk of a single person making a poor strategic choice.
Four Ways to Show Appreciation to your Employees Regardless of Company Size
Several years ago, I was touched to receive a Patriot’s football signed by all my staff. I was working in healthcare at the time, myself and the CEO had a saying, “Medicine is a Team Sport”. The football, with the signatures and that saying written across it, symbolized the work we had been doing within our culture. It represented everyone on the team having an equal voice in the quality and delivery of care to our patients. It even represented my love for football. Receiving that very personal gift, was one of the moments I felt most appreciated in the workplace.
To me, employee appreciation means to feel valued for the contributions I make and bring to the success of the company’s mission and business objectives. I want to feel like I matter, like what I do and bring in the way of intellect and ideas matter, I am heard, respected, seen and have a sense of belonging.
Employee appreciation doesn’t need to require a huge budget or even a ton of time. Here are my top ways to show appreciation to your employees regardless of company size.
Say Thank You – Really, Just Say It
The national research as well as our own, with our workforce, reinforces that a simple thank you is still the most important way and what most employees are hoping for in the way of feeling appreciated. A thank you can be delivered in person, a written note sent home, a public thank you during a department meeting, a word art email thank you, or even a simple text or phone call. Don’t overlook this often underestimated form of appreciation in the office.
Make Fun Mandatory
At Harvard Pilgrim, we like to show our appreciation to our employees in a variety of fun ways. Some examples include scavenger hunts, on-site bowling, on-site golf tournaments, cornhole tournaments, ice cream socials, chair massages, and even manicures. In addition, we have employee resource groups that host a variety of business and social events throughout the year like Chinese New Year parties and service projects. The events celebrate who we are as a collective people and show appreciation for what each of us bring to the mission of our organization. Plus, it strengthens bonds within teams and encourages people to make new connections.
If you are going to provide something in the way of cash or gift cards, try and make them experiential. Pay for part of someone’s landscaping project so that every time they are outside with their family in the yard, they are reminded of the company while they are enjoying their new space. Work with a farmer’s market to gift an employee with an experience of someone coming to their home and doing a farm to table meal, or a gift card to a farm-to-table experience for themselves and nine of their friends. If your appreciation is going to be cash-based only, it will not create a sustainable culture of appreciation.
Make Holidays Worth Celebrating
Outline a communications plan that spans the calendar year and notes Employee Appreciation Day, professional appreciation days, holidays as well as days special to your organization and the communities your organization serves.
Consider, giving each employee their birthday off with pay or a half day so that they can spend it doing something for themselves or institute a small budget by department so that a monthly celebration can take place for everyone who celebrated a work anniversary or birthday during that month. Encourage employees to make it personal by sharing a story of their 5 years with the company or what they most like to do to celebrate their birthday while not at work.
Too many people still think that appreciation involves money and that if you don’t have a spot bonus program you can’t appreciate your staff adequately. Appreciation is not about rewards. Appreciation evokes a feeling or response to being valued for who you are and your contribution.
People naturally want to do well, to do their best, to make a difference and to help others. If we create an environment where we are visibly celebrating what people do, how they do it and what it does for the company, the customer or the community, we will inspire them to continue to do what comes naturally; i.e., their best. Like Maya Angelo once said, “People will forget what you said, People will forget what you did, but they will never forget the way you made them feel”.