No Decision is a Decision


The Boston area still isn't over the Red Sox loss last week, and one good thing to arise from their loss is a discussion of management decisions. In A cautionary tale: management counts, Douglas Eisenhart says “If you think management doesn't have an impact on a team's performance, think again.” Eisenhart then discusses Grady Little's particular management indecision.

Managers are paid to make decisions. When I've seen organizations fail, in each case, the management team forgot that their job was to make the tough decisions. Managers have to make decisions in the face of ambiguity. No decision is still a decision — to continue on as in the past. Sometimes, that's the right decision.

But all too often, it's the wrong decision. Remember to apply the rule of three with decision-making. If you don't have three valid options, (one of which might be to continue on) you don't understand the problem. If you think your only option is to maintain the status quo, you're not working to the best of your management ability. Make sure you think of at least two other, worthy options.

When you think about decisions, consider this: Only one alternative is a trap. Two alternatives is a dilemma. Three alternatives offer you a real choice. (I learned this from Jerry Weinberg.)

Remember, no decision is a still a decision — a decision to continue on as you have been. If you're satisfied with the results, that may be exactly the right decision. But if you're not satisfied with the results, generate more options. Then you'll have a decision that works for you. And your management will count.

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