Unsticky and Stretch Decisions

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Decision making is fraught with challenges when made from the (incorrect) legacy industrial model assumptions. As a review, here they are:

      • people are cogs in a wheel
      • human capital and natural resources are commodities
      • people are motivated extrinsically by external power, prestige and money
      • logic is king, emotions are unreliable
      • compete for scarce resources
      • default: directive leading
      • highest value: efficiency
      • no morals needed
      • revere shareholder primacy

If you haven’t consciously uprooted these above assumptions from your subconscious mind, in all likelihood, you’re still using them. They’ve been impeded into the socialization process in societies linked to the global economy.

Decision making is clear, easy and stick as a human-centric leader, which s based on accurate assumptions. As a review, here go the assumptions:

      • people are conscious, dynamic beings
      • human capital and natural resources are irreplaceable
      • people are motivated intrinsically by love, significance, certainty, variety, growth, contribution, hope
      • logic, emotions, intuition are all reliable sources of info
      • collaborate around abundant resources
      • default: the leadership style depends on the context
      • highest value: humanity
      • morals matter
      • revere stakeholder primacy

Consider using human-centric assumptions instead of those of the legacy industrial model to consistently create great results.

Sticky Decisions

The ideal decision making strategy is to align your head, heart and gut — the cognitive mind, emotions and intuition. That makes them stick.

Sometimes, however, you might make decisions that feel good, but your head has unresolved questions OR they’re logical, but don’t feel right. These are decisions that are unlikely to stick.

Unsticky Decisions

Let’s say you went ahead and made a decision that felt right, even if you had logical reservations. You made the decision because you assumed that you’d be able to find solutions for the logical side and things would work out well.

Then, from the moment you made the decision and acted on it, you felt dissonance. You felt chaotic feelings, heard loud screams in your head or had a stomach ache. You may have wanted to escape the decision and get away from it all.

You’ll have to do something about that, because chaotic feelings are hard to tolerate over a long period of time and if you do, they ripple through every part of you, making life unnecessarily painful.

When you feel chaos, something is not right. You can re-assess your decision and make it right. You may have to “undo” the decision and that’s ok, if it gets you back to balance.

An Example

(based on a real situation with a real person in the SF Bay Area)

You work in a large corporation and want to work for a Silicon Valley startup. You interview everywhere and choose the newest, sexiest startup and remain very pleased that you landed a great job. You celebrate the day you signed the contract and take a week off to relax between jobs.

Within a few first few days of work, you start feeling like something’s wrong. Being a good “corporate citizen” (a code word used in the legacy industrial model), you ignore your feelings (only logic is worth listening to, right?) and put all your effort into the new challenges. Nothing works. The company is growing like mad, but also:

      • there are no clear processes
      • roles overlap
      • the executives are hard to access and when accessible, they seem confused and overwhelmed
      • everyone acts on his/her own
      • there’s a culture of “compete tooth and nail to get attention from execs”
      • success = be loud and visible
      • everyone works 12-15 hours per day, but gets little done
      • VCs pump money into the firm, even as long-standing customers bail
      • it’s not fun

By working there, you feel:

      • tired of the chaos
      • conflicted because the vision is unclear and the exec seem unsure
      • frustrated that your boss quit the week you started
      • annoyed that your colleagues are cut-throat and don’t want to collaborate
      • disappointed about the company culture and your decision to join
      • unsure about whether or not the execs know what they’re doing
      • worried about quitting too quickly

When you feel chaotic feelings, re-assess your decision and align your head, heart and gut. If it means looking for another job, in this example, it’s ok. It’s key to resolve chaos because, again, it’s not sustainable. It creates psychological effects that transform into stress, affecting your biology to the cellular level. You could get sick from wrong or unstick-y decisions that you don’t make right.

Stretch Decisions

There are some decisions, however, that are right and uncomfortable — they’re stretch decisions. They are based on an aligned head, heart and gut and feel as good as eating a satiating meal when really hungry.

At the same time, they might feel difficult, awkward, maybe agonizing, hard (it depends on how you look at the situation; it could look easy, too, but it might not feel easy). The hard part reflects the challenge of growing into the skills you need to make the decision work. It feels hard when you don’t quite have all the dexterity you need to put things into action, but you don’t mind — you like the challenge. It’s a decision that makes you happy to reach for new capabilities and motivates you to learn and develop. It’s fun, even if hard. Maybe not always fun, but it does feel right.

Stretch decisions don’t feel chaotic, they feel solid, satisfying, even if uncomfortable or challenging in a good way.

An Example

Using a variation of the above example, let’s say you took the new job and it feels good. The execs look like they know what they’re doing and even if some customers are bailing, you feel like the company is headed in the right direction and your job is interesting. You spend long hours learning how the company works, investing in relationships and finding ways to get around any existing organizational or political obstacles, but it’s like a fun game. You might feel tired from a lot of work or the organizational chaos, but it doesn’t drain you.

With a stretch decision, you feel calm internally even when there’s chaos externally. You feel good about it, even if it’s uncomfortable. That’s the big difference and you’ll know it when you feel it.

[Image from Freepik]