The best decision will NEVER turn out to be the wrong decision

4 May 2018 01:25
Decision making is fundamentally what leadership is all about. Without people making the decisions, you end up with either anarchy, inertia or confusion.
 
With hindsight, which always has 20/20 vision, it is easy for people to label a decision as either wrong or right. But that black and whiteness, right or wrong, just manifests the Impostor Syndrome in leaders. It's not healthy and it's not right.
 
Decision making is not linear but represents a particular fixed moment in time. At the time of its creation, a decision has three properties - wrong, right or best. 
 

The Wrong Decision

In Australia, we have been having a sustained period of national soul searching through various royal commissions. What has come to light at these is that some wrong decisions were made by leaders. 
 
At First Train, we categorise a wrong decision as being unlawful, unethical or ill-informed.  When the wrong decision is made, some leaders and organisations (who inevitably think they have a lot to lose) feel they must cover-up mistakes, lie about what they knew, or pretend they didn’t have information that was available at the time.
 

The Right Decision

The process in making the right decision is the same as the process in making the best decision.
 
It requires extensive thought and research. It requires gathering information from varying sources, from people who think differently to you and that you disagree with. You can only make a decision once you have all the options on the table.
 
The difference between the right decision and the best decision then relies on your gut instinct.
 
An example of the right decision is that of a whistle blower. The best decision for a whistle blower is to generally not come forward. The process can have a detrimental effect on the person's health, their career, cause intrusion into their private life, or strain on their personal life.
 
But they usually have an innate sense of what they have to do and so go with their gut instinct. They make the right decision.
 

The Best Decision

The best decision is made when you have done all your due diligence, have all the facts in front of you, then the balance is weighed against your experience and instinct (gut reaction). 
 
An example of making the best decision is in the recent #MeToo campaign in the Entertainment sector. Someone comes forward to make an historical claim, their timings all work out but you don't necessarily have all the historical documentation to back-up the claim. There is some doubt about the allegation but you decide to side with the victim, even though it's against legal advice, because the chance of it being substantiated will be more detrimental in the long run.
 
Just because after the settlement the claim is proved to be false does not then mean that the decision made was now the wrong decision. Decision making does not work like that. It's fixed at the point in time that it was made and based on the evidence available at the time.

Decision-making always involves an element of risk. There is a fine line between the right and best decision but leaders must make those decisions in order to give direction to their vision.
  

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