Know Greatness When You See It?

Let’s do a quick psychic demonstration:

Draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper. On the left side of the line name your three best decisions in life and on the right side name a couple of your worst decisions …Go ahead, I’ll wait!

And now be amazed with my uncannily accurate first prediction: The decisions on the left side all turned out great while those on the right side turned out lousy. Underwhelmed? How about my second prediction: You’re probably wrong.

Decision Overload

Decision fatigue is a recent discovery that describes how our mental energy is depleted by making several decisions. As our day wears on, our decision quality wears out.

We begin to make decisions based on the path of least resistance.

If a decision requires a bold step into unfamiliar territory, we will tend to say no. It’s easier to maintain the status quo.
Conversely, if the request is accompanied by a cadre of strong supporters, it’s easier to go with the flow and approve the proposal.
Decision fatigue also causes us to simplify our decisions. Instead of weighing multiple criteria such as risk minimization versus income maximization versus workforce impacts, we focus on a single attribute and choose accordingly.

[But,] It’s important to note here that we are completely unaware of decision fatigue.

The ROI of Follow-Up

Making time to review earlier proposals and decisions is hard… very hard. But it’s still one of the best time investments a leader can make.

When operating budgets are squeezed, we usually cut the training budget first. It’s an easy target because there is little visible, immediate impact. When time is squeezed, we usually cut follow-up reviews. Follow-up is an easy target because we tell ourselves we’ll get back to those reviews… when there’s time. So, when will that be? And how much might delay cost?

Can Do!

The Right Time…
Like most good things, there is a right time and place for challenging the troops to reach beyond what they believe possible. The right time is after the decision is made. Once the course is charted, charging up the troops to give it their all is crucial.

Churchill’s speech occurred after his decision to continue resisting the fascist onslaught. He wasn’t asking the people whether they could face the challenge ahead – he already knew they must. He was preparing them for that challenge.

…And The Wrong Time
The wrong time to motivate the troops to take on stretch goals is before the decision is made.

Don’t Try This at Home

I’m a fan of the television series, Mythbusters… getting paid to blow things up is one of my dream jobs.

Sitting comfortably in my sofa, it’s temping to think, “Hey, I could do that!” Whether dynamiting a cement truck or creating a massive fireball from non-dairy creamer (really!), I’m tempted to dismiss their “Don’t try this at home – we’re professionals” warning as mere hype.

The source of this over-confidence is simply that I don’t know what I don’t know.

AWOL: Putting “Business” back in the “Business Case”

According to many CFOs, the firm really needs to set aside more of this money for investments that will move the business forward in growth and profits. This frustration is a reasonable sentiment. Diverting scarce capital into projects that merely “keep it running” are hardly awe-inspiring.

But what jumped out at me was one culprit, or should I say scapegoat, that many CFOs blamed. One respondent was quoted saying that the “basic foundational structure of IT is inadequate to take the company forward, but no one can build the business case to tackle it.” (emphasis added)

Really? The current infrastructure is holding the company back but no one can demonstrate the value of improving it?

Traction: Launching & Sustaining A Strategic Skills Initiative

“In my life there are not that many questions I can’t properly deal with using my $40 adding machine and dog-eared compound interest table.” Charlie Munger, Berkshire Hathaway

In the last five years there has been a wave of interest in elevating Finance from its traditional support role. Rather than merely crunching numbers, CEOs and CFOs want finance to be a full business partner in developing, challenging, and executing strategy.

Is this the golden age for Corporate Finance? Not quite yet.

Shoddy or Integrity?

Ancient Romans used integritas to describe pottery. Saying a ceramic piece had integritas meant the quality that appeared on the outside existed throughout the entire piece. There were no hidden weaknesses or imperfections covered by an attractive glaze. A vessel with integritas will hold up under stress.

Double Your Money In 7 Days Or Less!

Powerful pressures lure the most sincere project teams into over-valuing the projects they have been working on a long time. A simple question can alert leaders the numbers are unreliable.

You are the leader of a large organization and in front of you lies a proposal for a new IT project. You normally hate IT projects. They are usually are laden with incomprehensible acronyms & jargon and it is difficult enough trying to understand the problem they are describing let alone the solution. In this case, however, the team has done a smashing job: They have used plain English, all the right experts were involved, and the team achieved consensus for this recommendation. Best of all, the financials projected a credible and respectable 20% Return On Investment.

Now let me tap you on the shoulder and burst your bubble: