3 Decisions not to make this Monday
The first day of the working week is such a terrible time to make good business decisions that I have mounted a personal campaign to eradicate planning meetings on Monday and move them to later in the week.Nonetheless – and despite my very best efforts – on Monday morning millions of man-hours will be sucked into doing just that – sitting around conference tables (virtually or otherwise), trying to make good quality decisions about growing the business.
And because of the pressure of time at the very outset of the week, the need to fix things that unravelled over the weekend, the introduction of notions (smart and otherwise) that adhered to people over the weekend when they read blogs like this, and because of the tooling up and tooling down factor, millions upon millions of poor (or outright bad) decisions will be made before close of business on Monday.
The good news is that 80% of those poor decisions fall into one of three easily recognizable categories. Ban (or postpone to a later time) any decision in these categories and you will dramatically increase the quality of your overall decision making (and will equally dramatically reduce the length of time your planning meeting takes):
1. Mistaking an opportunity for a revenue stream
Somebody met somebody who we could co-partner with. Somebody went to Winnipeg and boy could we sell a lot of our product there. Somebody read an article that mentioned a sub-demographic sliver of the market that we’re missing out on. Somebody saw somebody do something real cool with a product or service that’s sorta like our product or service and gee we could do that too…
…and before you know it, we’re building castles in the sky.
Don’t do it. Send ‘somebody’ (yes, the same ‘somebody who…’) off to do some actual research into the reality behind the opportunity. Get it off the meeting agenda and into somebody’s schedule – see if it will live. (‘Great ideas’ have weird gills that allow them to live indefinitely in meeting agendas, but only a sub-set of the species – ‘truly great ideas’ – can live on the land that is one person’s schedule.)
2. Confusing anecdote with data
A customer returned their blue widget order because the widgets arrived in pink. That’s twice that’s happened now, so we need a policy to stop it happening again. George got the same paycheck this month as last, even though he didn’t sell as much this month. That’s twice that’s happened now, so we need to change the compensation plan as it’s clearly not working right. Andraya lost the Jenkins pitch because they said we were too expensive. That’s twice that’s happened now, so we need to revise our rate card.
Maybe, maybe not. Definitely not in this meeting, because we’re not going to make decisions based on anecdote, and we certainly aren’t going to make the mistake of turning a coincidence into a trend. Instead, whoever felt the pain can go make some reasonable investigation into the underlying facts and we can make a reasoned decision at another time, based on actual proposals for a solution rather than uninformed squeals of discomfort.
3. Polluting the building to get out of the room
Oh, last 20 minutes, how great decisions loathe thee…
If you could with any credibility startle every participant in every planning meeting by shouting at the top of your voice ‘This meeting is now over!‘ and bring the meeting to a premature end, you should do so. Sadly, it’s likely you’d only get away with it once.
Instead, more dreadful decisions are made in that last period of time than at any other. Why? Because otherwise normal people get so bored, frustrated, irritated, distracted, impatient and/or outright ornery as the meeting drags up against their personal hard stop that they make decisions that are based more on getting the discussion (and therefore the meeting) to an end than on what is best for the business. They end up polluting the building to get out of the room.
The answer? A bell, and a piece of paper. The bell rings at the time when the meeting ends, and the meeting ends. Instantaneously. In mid-sentence, literally. It’s over. Pick-up-your-papers-and-go over. Somebody writes down where we were on the piece of paper. Next meeting, we pick up that topic with an allotted 10 minutes to conclude it. Done.
No endless discussion, no forced need to come to a decision, no polluting the building to get out of the room. Oh, and every meeting ends when it was scheduled to, so that’s good, too.