The effective decision-maker organizes dissent.
Decisions of the kind the executive has to make are not made well by acclamation. They are made well only if based on the clash of conflicting views, the dialogue between different points of view, the choice between different judgments. The first rule in decision making is that one does not make a decision unless there is disagreement. • Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., is reported to have said at a meeting of one of the GM top committees, “Gentlemen, I take it we are all in complete agreement on the decision here.” Everyone around the table nodded assent. “Then,” continued Mr. Sloan, “I propose we postpone further discussion of this matter until our next meeting to give ourselves time to develop disagreement and perhaps gain some understanding of what the decision is all about.” There are three reasons why dissent is needed. It first safeguards the decision maker against becoming the prisoner of the organization. Everybody is a special pleader, trying—often in perfectly good faith—to obtain the decision he favors. Second, disagreement alone can provide alternatives to a decision. And a decision without an alternative is a desperate gambler’s throw, no matter how carefully thought through it might be. Above all, disagreement is needed to stimulate the imagination.
ACTION POINT: Organize dissent for a particular decision by bringing people with diverse points of view into the decision process. Choose on the basis of “what is right,” not “who is right.
Elements of the Decision Process
Ignore a single element in the process and the decision will tumble down like a badly built wall in an earthquake.
Good decision makers know that decision making has its own process and its own clearly defined elements and steps. Every decision is risky: it is a commitment of present resources to an uncertain and unknown future. But if the process is faithfully observed and if the necessary steps are taken, the risk will be minimized and the decision will have a good chance of turning out successful. Good decision makers
- Know when a decision is necessary
- Know that the most important part of decision making is to make sure that the decision is about the right problem
- Know how to define the problem
- Don’t even think about what is acceptable until they have thought through what the right decision is
- Know that, in all likelihood, they will have to make compromises in the end
- Know that they haven’t made a decision until they build its implementation and effectiveness into it
ACTION POINT: Take a predicament you are facing right now. What is the problem? Do not take any steps toward making a decision until you are sure that you have diagnosed the problem completely and correctly.
“It’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose your own.”
“Our economy is based on spending billions to persuade people that happiness is buying things, and then insisting that the only way to have a viable economy is to make things for people to buy so they’ll have jobs and get enough money to buy things.”
“I believe in a relatively equal society, supported by institutions that limit extremes of wealth and poverty. I believe in democracy, civil liberties, and the rule of law. That makes me a liberal, and I’m proud of it.”
“The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become.
“Once you realize that trickle-down economics does not work, you will see the excessive tax cuts for the rich as what they are — a simple upward redistribution of income, rather than a way to make all of us richer, as we were told.”
“No nation has ever taxed itself into prosperity.”
“When we replace a sense of service and gratitude with a sense of entitlement and expectation, we quickly see the demise of our relationships, society, and economy.”
“Bailing out people who made ill-advised mortgages makes no more sense that bailing out people who lost their life savings in Las Vegas casinos.”
“You know what’s truly weird about any financial crisis? We made it up. Currency, money, finance, they’re all social inventions. When the sun comes up in the morning it’s shining on the same physical landscape, all the atoms are in place.”
“You can’t tax business. Business doesn’t pay taxes. It collects taxes.”
“The best way to boost the economy is to redistribute wealth downward, as poorer people tend to spend a higher proportion of their income.”
“In the fashion industry, everything goes retro except the prices.”
“Disease is the biggest money maker in our economy.”
John H. Tobe
“Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.”
“The power to tax is the power to destroy.”
“Cheap booze is a false economy.”
“Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of production and trade…”
Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
“Thrift is poetic because it is creative; waste is unpoetic because it is waste.”