23rd March 2016

Good Decisions Executed Well

I was reading something the other day which stated “to manage effectively means to make the right decisions and implement them. The quality of the managerial process is a function of the quality of the decisions made and the efficiency of implementation”.

A pretty succinct explanation of the management challenge I would say and expressed with great clarity by Ichak Adizes in his somewhat forgotten book ‘Corporate Lifecycles’. It brings into bold relief two of the fundamental foundational skills every business leader and manager needs; the ability to make good decisions and the ability to act, to execute at a consistently high level.

Business is a contact sport. It is not simply an intellectual exercise. It demands the ability to implement, to do, to turn theory into successful and productive action.

Decision making can be seen as a cerebral exercise. It is possible to do that in isolation (note I didn’t say we should do it in isolation, however). So I wonder how competent business owners and leaders are at making decisions. The thing is many will feel they are good at making decisions, simply because they are decisive but the criterion that really matters is the quality, in other words are we making good decisions? The proof of that particular pudding is definitely in the eating.

One of the big factors in the quality of decisions is the mental models that we have in mind which assist in making decisions. Wrong model equals wrong decisions. It is said that Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s right hand man for many decades had access to dozens of mental models and is famed for the quality of decisions he made.

Implementation, or execution as I most often refer to it, is about action. It is about being able to consistently do what needs to be done. Where teams are involved it is about being able to be certain that the individuals and the teams are doing what needs to be done insistently consistently and persistently. This is much less an intellectual exercise and more a measure of our actions, our techniques and our capabilities.

Good managers need a great combination of decision making and implementation competence.