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Dec 26 - Jan 01, 2006


A decision, to be effective, needs to satisfy the boundary conditions.

A decision process requires clear specifications as to what the decision has to accomplish. What are the objectives the decision has to reach? In science these are known as 'boundary conditions' a decision, to be effective, needs to be adequate to its purpose. The more concisely and clearly boundary conditions are stated, the greater the likelihood that the decision will indeed be an effective one and will accomplish what it set out to do. Conversely, any serious shortfall in defining these boundary conditions is almost certain to make a decision ineffectual, no matter how brilliant it may seem.

"What is the minimum needed to resolve this problem?" is the form in which the boundary conditions are usually probed. "Can our needs be satisfied," Alfred P. Sloan presumably asked himself when he took command of General Motors in 1922; "by removing the autonomy of the division heads?" his answer was clearly in the negative. The boundary conditions of his problem demanded strength and responsibility in the chief operating positions. This was needed as much as control at the center and unity. The boundary conditions demanded a solution to a problem of structure, rather than an accommodation among personalities. And this, in turn, made his solution last.

ACTION POINT: Take a decision you are facing today. Clearly specify what purpose or need you want to fulfill by making the decision.


Start with what is right rather than what is acceptable

One has to start out with what is right rather than what is acceptable precisely because one always has to compromise the end. But if one does not know what is right, one cannot distinguish between the right compromise and the wrong compromise-and will end up by making the wrong compromise. I was taught this when I started in 1944 on my first big consulting assignment, a study of the management structure and management policies of the General Motors Corporation. Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., who was then chairman and chief executive officer of the company, called me to his office at the start of my study and said: "I shall not tell you what to study, what to write, or what conclusions to come to. My only instruction to you is to put down what you think is right as you see it. Don't you worry about our reaction. And don't you, above all, concern yourself with the compromises that might be needed to make your recommendations acceptable. There is not one executive in this company who does not know how to make a compromise with out any help from you. But he can't make the right compromise unless you first tell him what 'right' is'.

The executive thinking through a decision might put this in front of him-or herself in neon lights.

ACTION POINT: Define an outcome for the decision in the previous reading that would perfectly satisfy your requirements.


To win the battle for market share, make the product the hero of your advertising.

Everybody knows good counsel except him that has need of it.

Manners make the fortune of the ambitious youth.
RALPH WALDO EMERSON, American philosopher, poet and essayist.

The more things change, the more they remain the same.
ALPHONSE KARR, French journalist and author.

Man is still the most extraordinary computer of all.
JOHN F.KENNEDY, American statesman, and 35th president of the United States of America.

Manners maketh the man.

Creative minds have always been known to survive any kind of bad training.
ANNA FREUD, Austrian-born British psychoanalyst, youngest daughter of Sigmund Freud and fonder of child psychoanalysis.

Be often wrong but never in doubt.
KEITH B. MATHER, American academic and vice chancellor for research & advanced study, university of Alaska.

Do not try to fly before you have wings.

One of the keys to thinking big is total focus.

DONALD TRUMP, American entrepreneur, developer and author.

To most people, the future is like heaven- sounds great, but they're not ready for it yet.

Promise, large promise, is the soul of an advertisement.
SAMUEL JOHNSON, British poet, essayist, critic, journalist and lexicographer.

I maintain that ideas are events.
GUSTAVE FLAUBERT, French novelist.

It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.
RENE DESCARTES, French philosopher and mathematician.

Knowledge is power.
FRANCIS BACON, British statesman, philosopher and essayist.

The real leader has no need to lead- he is content to point the way.
HENRY MILLER, American author and artist.

A little learning is a dangerous thing.
ALEXANDER POPE, British poet and satirist.

An ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness.
ELBERT HUBBARD, American businessman, printer and writer.

Fortune favours the brave.
TERENCE. Roman playwright.


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