Decision Making – Balancing The Three Forces Of Decision Implementation!

SERIES: Part Four of a Four-Part ArticleWith every decision comes the balancing act of the three primary factors that impact the overall decision to be made and the corresponding politics associated with the stakeholders of each factor or faction.
If the output of any given decision is increased productivity and profitability, then think of the decision-making process in your business as a triangle. Each side is labeled with one of the three corresponding factors that influence the output of any decision. On that triangle label:
1.      Financials/Costs
2.      Time/Deadlines
3.      Quality/Expectations
In an ideal decision-making process, productivity would allow an individual to weigh all three factors equally and draw upon the best of each. The best being:
1.      The obvious elements that comprise that factor
2.      The individuals who own that factor
3.      The committees, experts, vendors, personnel assets, equipment, technology, etc. associated with a factor
4.      The ideal output from a factor to be incorporated into the final product of a decision
In reality, one of these three sides most often will be in a state of jeopardy. With this model in mind, now you can make an educated judgment as to which side is least important if you must negotiate away or down any one factor. You can now work, as a safety measure, a side that may be overlooked in an otherwise hastily executed decision.
This model aids in controlled conversations with colleagues, employees, superiors, clients and vendors to ensure all sides are considered in the discussion of an impending decision and in the execution of productivity. For example, if someone has a tight deliverable window for a decision, you might need to discuss the quality decrease that may occur or the need for additional revenue or assets to ensure that the deadline is met and no quality declines are experienced.
To increase productivity tactically, ensure that when tasked with a decision, if any of these three critical factors is outside of your sphere of experience or knowledge, you access those assets and involve them at the earliest possible time.  Don’t put off the obvious in decision making, as the longer you wait the more pressure will be placed on the three forces.

-Dr Jeff Magee
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Decision Making – The Basic Functionality Of Decision Making With The STOP Formula©!

It is estimated that the top barriers to effective decision making in daily business run the gamut from procrastination and paralysis-of-analysis to fear and avoidance. Study any entrepreneur or perceived successful individual and what you will not observe is the presence of these barriers!
To increase your daily productivity, consider the basic functionality of how one’s brain processes data and how one can template that action for decision-making success.
In order to facilitate the basic process of decision making, your brain must:
1.      See the STIMULANT to be addressed.
2.      RATIONALIZE that stimulant as being worthy of one’s time.
3.      Establish realistic courses of RECOURSE in dispensing with that stimulant.
4.      COMMIT to that recourse which will then be made or implemented.
To facilitate the decision process in pursuit of increased productivity and, thus, profitability to an organization or business, one needs a decision-making formula that parallels the brain flow from a business perspective and ensures avoidance to the barriers to effective decision making. Consider the “STOP Formula©”:
1.      S:  Stop and See the stimulant at hand. If you can isolate and see the stimulant needing attention, you will avoid procrastination.  This means you are on your way toward increased productivity by avoiding the first barrier to success!
2.      T:  Target and Think through why that stimulant has been raised to your attention. While you make a case for or against the stimulant, you are working through the rationalization phase.  By moving smoothly forward and recognizing that there is another step, you will avoid paralysis-of-analysis, the second barrier to success!
3.      O:  Organizing Options for forward movement is the concentration of this third step in the decision process. Explore multiple viable recourse or option plans, recognizing that the word “options” in this step is plural.  Until there are plural forward pathways, one should not hastily move forward. By doing this, you can address fear-based reasons for not moving forward confidently and become more confident to move to the fourth, and final, step in the decision process for increased productivity.
4.      P:  Pick and Proceed with the option that is most viable. By committing to that action plan, you will also always have a backup plan.  If, in fact, you did step three effectively and not hastily, you will avoid the barrier of not moving forward.
The parallel applications of this formula are explosive. You can also use it in pursuit of presentations and decision making with others to facilitate a controlled, systematic dialogue, by presenting one item or step at a time.  You will progress smoothly and increase group productivity. This can also be used in crises, decision-making situations in business to ensure tactical control and emotional containment, by addressing each of the four functional decision steps at a time.
Increased productivity comes from the basic functionality of the decision-making process gained by using the STOP Formula© daily!
-Dr Jeff Magee
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Decision Making – Mission Statements Serve As Road Maps To Greater Productivity And Decreased Conflicts!

Every day good people in good businesses come into work and invest significant energies working against one another. Finally, someone stops and asks, “Why are the individual decisions made by people actually holding us back from significant productivity and profitability opportunities?”

This may not be as rare as one might think. Finding the answer to how to get more people to work from the same perspective is easier than one might expect. This is because each person has differing understandings of what decisions need to be made – there is no common map off which to benchmark independent decisions.

To address this, there are Five Distinct Mission Statements that every business needs to consider, define and post. Once these mission statements are posted, individuals will have a common map to guide their decisions and actions and increase productivity.

A Mission Statement is like a well-defined MAP. With it, each decision and action lets you know if you are on course, off course, ahead of schedule or behind it. With a well-defined map (mission statement), productivity explodes!

I liken a mission statement to that of a map. A commonality among adults needing to drive, for example, from where they are to an unknown destination, is to generate a map to guide their individual decisions. This should be the same drill followed daily in business!

There are Five Mission Statements of which one should be aware in order to make better decisions and tactically increase daily productivity.

  1. Mission Statement One, Organizational – The senior stakeholders should define the purpose of the business in this first and overlying statement referred to as the Organizational Mission Statement. This will give all subsequent leaders and functional areas a guidepost for crafting their contributing components.
  2. Mission Statement Two, Functional Work Area (department, line, shift, unit, team, etc.) – Each member of a work area should participate in crafting his or her purpose and, thus, contributing piece to the overall Organizational Mission Statement in their own Functional Work Area statement. After everyone has participated in crafting this mission statement, each person can now reference any decision or action against this statement to determine independently whether it should be pursued or dropped in pursuit of greater productivity!
  3. Mission Statement Three, Customer – The customer can be a moving target, as who you are engaging at any time may differ. Knowing what their needs, purposes and desires are is their Customer Mission Statement.  This will aid you in determining whether you can accommodate them.
  4. Mission Statement Four, Colleague – Likewise, knowing why your colleagues are associated with your team is the window through which you can see what their motivators and de-motivators are. Knowing this assists you in recognizing what items you may want to raise in their presence in order to influence the overall productivity of the team!
  5. Mission Statement Five, You – With the gained insight from knowing the first four mission statements, an individual can craft a personal mission statement that will serve to guide his or her own decisions for increased productivity!

With well-defined Mission Statements, good people in good businesses come into work every day and invest significant energies, working in concert with one another. Tactical decision-making is impossible without clear maps from which one is expected to work.  And with clear maps, productivity explodes!

-Dr Jeff Magee
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Decision Making – Using The Quadrant Manager System© Ensures Greater Productivity Versus Activity!

When the dust settles and the calm returns, the degree of quality productivity versus sheer activity will mean the difference between profitability and mere sustainability in today’s business place. To attain this, one must be able to facilitate basic decision-making in relation to what one focuses energy on and what should be set aside or ignored entirely.

In today’s business place, whether a professional uses an electronic self-management device (PDA) or a more traditional day planner, it is critical that the use of a tactical system be adopted and used diligently for true productivity.

An incredibly simple, yet explosive, tactical productivity decision-making instrument that can be adopted into any system is the “Quadrant Manager System© (QM)!”

To ensure maximum productivity, use the following instrument daily. It can be added to any existing system to ensure the totality of listed action items needing daily attention get the appropriate level of attention. The instrument also serves as an efficient daily monitoring instrument at mid-day by evaluating what items in one’s business have been addressed by mid-day and thus where energies should be focused for the remainder of the day.

Always remember, there is a difference between being active and being productive!

To use the QM System© there are three distinct tactical steps. Both psychology and profitability are incorporated into the implementation of the QM System©. If you shortcut any step, you will find that you will lapse into an ACTIVITY zone and not a PRODUCTIVITY zone!

  1. STEP ONE, CREATE IT – Anywhere on your existing physical day planning device or on any blank sheet of paper, merely draw a large plus sign. Make the sign large enough to make small notes within the four quadrants imposed by the intersecting lines, yet small enough to not take up much physical space.
    The plus sign created by the intersecting lines creates four distinct quadrants (hence the QM System©), each representing a productivity zone. In any order, it does not matter, label the four quadrants: TO DO, TO SEE, TO CALL, TO WRITE.
    These represent the only workable action items one faces in business. All tasks, assignments, and activities can be attributed to any one of these four quadrants!
  2. STEP TWO, BUILD IT – Regardless of the totality of items you may have assigned to a pre-existing action/to do list, to increase productivity greatly, you must evaluate each category within the QM System©.  Only write up to, and never more than, THREE ENTRIES in each quadrant. If there are not three items needing attention for a given day in a given quadrant, don’t make up extra work for yourself.  If there are more than three, the rule of thumb is, “If I could only work on up to, and no more than, three items per quadrant, which three would be most important?”
    Now you have identified the three most important action items for productivity for a given day.  If accomplished, you will have completed the top 12 most productive items needing your attention, as opposed to countless items that, while they may have needed attention, were not critical and, thus, not important.  When the dust settled they were probably more along the lines of items that occupied a lot of activity and not productivity!
  3. STEP THREE, PRIORITIZE IT – Now evaluate each quadrant independently. Using the same methodology used for placing the initial entries into the quadrants, evaluate and prioritize each quadrant’s action items by asking, “If I could only work on one item in this quadrant, which one would be most important?”

Continue that evaluation for all entries in each quadrant and for all four quadrants.

When you are done, you will have a maximum of three items per quadrant, and each will have a descending numerical value associated with it. Notice that you may have items in a quadrant that, while you wrote them down as the first entry in that quadrant, have a value of two or three associated with them.  This indicates that they get your attention only after the “one’s” have been completed or pushed forward as far as they can for legitimate reasons.

To ensure maximum productivity, always work tactically on those items that are genuinely most important. You can take the QM System© and occasionally modify your attention by drawing a circle in the middle of the instrument. Then prioritize the quadrants, one more important than the other, as well as the items within each quadrant.

Additional lessons learned from the implementation of the system are: All items that fall at level three or below are those that should either be delegated away to others or should never have been allowed onto your figurative desk; you can use the instrument as a conversation reference with those that over-task you by engaging in cooperatively deciding which items need your true attention and which items can be better tasked away to others; you can modify the system and have tactical variations for just marketing, selling, research-development, business projects, and so on.

Success in the new economy is dependent upon every player at every level setting aside those items that may be fun but are not productivity items for one’s bottom line purpose!

-Dr Jeff Magee
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