The Decision Tree

by Jule' Colvin on August 22, 2011

“To the point and thought-provoking article (from: for non-profit leaders! I love the comment about not doing anything to diminish the pride our parents have in us! Good reading.” -Jule’ Colvin

There are challenging moments in every organization that most oftentimes arise surrounding the decision-making process.  Do we have enough data?  What do our members/customers/clients think?  Have we thoroughly tested our idea?  What don’t we know?  As the old adage goes, “where you stand, depends directly on where you sit.”  Each of us comes to the decision making process with our own experiences, bias and expectations.   Assuming you were raised in a democratic society, the deep-seated belief that you have a right to be heard might be one of your unconscious biases.  There are dozens of other hidden biases that if left unexplored seed the ground for potential trouble.

Each of us makes dozens and dozens of decisions every day.  It is easy to become complacent and overlook the incredibly complex dynamic that underlies each one.  Many of our daily decisions are intuitive in nature—an apple is healthier than a candy bar—for instance.  The interstate highway is slower in rush hour than surface streets.  Revenues must exceed expenses to generate a profit.  Our world is full of heuristics or “rules” by which we operate.  What are some of your own personal heuristics?

To combat natural biases in decision-making many organizations have expanded beyond mission and value statements to craft guiding principles intended to shape and influence individual and group decision-making.

The head of the $6.9 billion dollar Australian firm LendLease a leading retail and international property group under the leadership of Stuart Hornery did so in some extraordinary ways in the late 1990’s.  Hornery put a sharp point on the effort saying “if guiding principles are genuinely held and practiced throughout the company will attract the best people to work for us, the quality of our work will attract the attention of customers, demand for our services will grow, and our global family will prosper—all of which contributes to delivering superior value for our shareholders.”

  • Dare to be different in everything we do—the enemy of mediocrity.
  • Never do anything that would diminish the pride our parents have in us.
  • No nasty surprises—grow earnings every year.
  • Be a leading employer.
  • Enhance the environment.
  • We need special relationships to enhance our capabilities.
  • No individual has a monopoly on good ideas.
  • We will only prosper with the support of the communities with which we interact.
  • We wish all employees to be shareholders
  • We believe there is a strong link between good governance and performance.

While every organization does not have shareholders per se—we clearly we do have stakeholders.  Members, customers, legislators, regulators, and the communities we serve. All demand our greatest efforts and deserve the delivery of superior value.  How’s your decision making that happen?

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