First, my apology, and then we’ll move on. I am sorry for not posting in so long. I do not know what happened. I enjoy writing and I’m not doing enough of it. My days have turn into evenings, which turn into nights, which turn into early mornings, which turn into 2-3 hours of sleep. Most of you know that I am OK on little sleep, but I need 4-5 hours to feel good, and I haven’t been getting that lately. I think the question becomes… what have I been doing?
We’ve been working on budgets at Spreadshirt. We are doing a more extensive round than before, so that means lots of meeting and work. Along with this, we are also talking about our priorities for 2008. These are always fun processes because you are talking about the future, but they are also wrought with one word, “No.”
“No” is a post I’ve been meaning to write for awhile. First, let’s take the definition of the word. The Oxford English Dictionary says no is “a denial”, “a refusal”, “the negative side or party”, and “a person who votes against a proposal”. Ouch, such harsh words for two little characters. But, it shows how powerful language is. These two letters often bring up lots of emotion. So, whenver I’m saying “no”, I try to think how the other party thinks about the decision. What does it mean from their perspective?
Remember you hired your team to be the best advocates for their department/group. If they aren’t passionate about your saying no, then are they the best advocates? You need to remember that there is trade off between local (departmental) and global (corporate) optimization, but there should be push back on a no vote. Because, as defined, no is a denial. (Note… Your team won’t always understand your reasons for this denial, but as a leader, try.)
As more help in understanding why “no” is so hard, I had a revelation a few years ago when reading a terrific Fortune article by Jerry Useem on decision making. The piece that I repeat to myself (for two+ years now): (bold added by me)
Start with the Latin decidere. It means, literally, “to cut off.” Decisions force us to foreclose other opportunities–jobs not taken, strategies never attempted, options unpursued. Would that sales gig in Houston have worked out better? You’ll never know.
This little piece helped me understand why people have problems with decisions. I never have had a problem with decisions… in business, in personal life, in shopping even. I make a decision and move on. Though not conscious, I think it is because I don’t look at a decision as cutting off anything, but rather the flip side… I look forward to the road taken, or at least, if the road looks bumpy, I look forward to having a road to take, rather than sitting at the crossroads waiting. Thanks to Mr. Useem, I now understand the struggle with decisions more, and can help coach them to the right answer.
So, as I said when I started this blog, I want to learn from you too. What is your experience with decision making? Are you consistent across business and personal decisions? Do you struggle with any particular types of decisions? Do you think that these definitions and latin roots have an impact on how we look at decisions and “nos”?
P.S. Jerry Useem also interviewed Jim Collins on decision making and it was a good piece too.
What is on my shirt today? What else?