Provocative Propositions

In the hyperactive and challenging world in which we all live, it is becoming harder and harder for business leaders to find time to read, reflect and gain insight from the many valuable sources at our disposal.

In "Provocative Propositions", The Beacon Group attempts to fill that void by offering our opinion, often rather pointed, on a wide array of issues we believe are relevant to leading a modern organization.

The articles are catalogued into 12 categories so you can quickly and easily find a topic of particular interest. We then offer three easy steps under the heading "In Our Opinion" to help business leaders take action on the key themes.

Simply click on the category and read away.

Cultures of Hesitancy
You can see it now, the anxious 2-year old on the swimming pool deck, mother waiting in the water, gently prodding... "You can do it. Go ahead. Jump..."

He's sitting in the restaurant, the engagement ring in his pocket, waiting for her to arrive. Tonight's the night. "You can do it. Go ahead. Propose..."

She is wrapping up the Annual Board Meeting, when a Shareholder asks to take the floor. Trouble is brewing "You can do it. Go ahead. Let him speak..."

Youíre looking at the prototype, the financials have been projected, the team is proud, but is the market ready for this? "You can do it. Go ahead. Decide..."

Jeff Immelt, the CEO of GE feels that GE has a problem - decisiveness. In reality, many organizations suffer from what author Ram Charan has called "A Culture of Indecision". Organizations around the world have, at their fingertips, all of the best processes and facilities to make decisions: Offsite Planning Sessions, Team Meetings, Product Meetings, and Design Meetings. As well, once a decision is made, countless resources are available to implement it: Six-Sigma Teams, Project Teams, Design Shops.

The one thing that many organizations lack is the crucial piece in the middle - the ability to actually make high quality decisions.

This is the very essence of "the go point", in the book "The Go Point" by Professor Michael Useem.

The key is understanding that the business world is moving at lightning speed, customers are being wooed away by competitors that seem to pop up over night, and it is imperative to continually increase the tempo of your organization.

If you want to be around tomorrow, your organization has to realize one thing - itís go time. The days of flip-chart mania are over. Analysis-paralysis is now a lethal disease.

Successful executives will be measured, in large part, on their ability to make tough decisions, and ultimately to turn ideas into action.

Decide to Learn to Decide

Being decisive is a learnable skill.

What it requires is an understanding that the more you put yourself into situations where you are called upon to make a decision, the more you will gain the experience and knowledge required to embrace that special moment - the moment when the decision is made.

Once you are comfortable with your ability to be decisive, you can then "mentor" those around you to make tough decisions as well.


As a leader, you must become more aware of team members who display the symptoms of decidophobia. The affliction may be related to the actual disorder - hypengyophobia: the fear of responsibility.

Often, one of the major factors causing a fear of making decisions, is the fear that there won't be an adequate support system for them on the other side, whether the outcome is good, or bad. Your job is to ensure that individuals know there is two-sided accountability; they are responsible for achieving results, and you are responsible for providing all things necessary to help them achieve the results.

Decision Templates

Although there are several approaches to decision making, one fact remains - to make better decisions, use a process, any process. By following a process, there is a greater likelihood that, when it is time to "go", there will be an ability to pinpoint any holes in judgment, and the commitment of the team will be greater.

As well, an additional benefit of using a decision template is the transparency of the decision process to all participants.

Yes, No, Maybe

The pursuit of decisiveness, in many cases, is upended by organizational culture.

Lou Gerstner, former CEO of IBM, noted that when he first came on board, he was presented with a culture of "no". Fear, infighting and misalignment had caused an organizational response that stifled creativity, innovation and, ultimately, morale. Every idea was promptly shot down, with one swift - no.

Another unfortunate situation arises when office politics come into play. This is the culture of "yes". To impress the boss, team members rally around the boss' initial decision and, once itís approved, they promptly start doing something else.

Lastly, and often most costly, is a culture of "maybe". In this case, the cautious, analytical organization takes every suggestion put forth by team members, and grinds all of the life out of them by spending countless hours analyzing the ideas.

In any organization, the focus should be on balancing the responses. Once a decision is made, the decision is final and the action is carried out. If the answer is yes, it is off the table once and for all. If the answer is maybe, the idea is given its due process through an agreed upon decision template, to produce either a yes or no.

In Our Opinion

The Beacon Groupís Keys to Developing a "GO" Culture

Ready - Fostering a culture that rewards action while simultaneously celebrating the unforeseeable failure is crucial. Ensure your employees are enthused about making decisions, not fearful.

Set - Although decisiveness is the key, having a rehearsed game plan is a must. To ensure the decision is an educated one, it is important to scenario plan what will happen once the decision is actually made.

Go - As a leader, this is the most crucial stage. When it is time to go, it is your responsibility to unleash your decision with full confidence. Showing your confidence will help build increased support from your team.

Watch Film - Understanding the correlation between the process you used to make the decision, and the eventual outcome is an often-overlooked step. In most cases the "review" happens when something fails; be sure to review in good cases as well.
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