Purpose-led, values-based decision making

We come across senior teams who have not yet developed a consistent approach to making decisions.

Think about that.

Important operational and strategic decisions that are subject to the vagaries of intuition, moods, poorly understood context, a lack of relevant criteria, a failure to gather relevant qualified information, the wrong people round the table, and more.

Decision making when you’re under fire, either literally or metaphorically, isn’t easy.

It takes heightened awareness, the considered selection of an appropriate course of action, continuous review, and drive to see it through. Military and emergency services decision making processes can help you move from a place of mind-boggling complexity and danger to one of relative safety, and onwards towards delivering on your purpose.

It’s what helped me during a first 30-year career in the military. It’s helped me work through the shock of being made redundant. It’s helped me work through some shocking verbal abuse by a toxic boss. It’s helped me work through some fast-moving opportunities.

It’s the way we lead when crocodiles look like making it into the canoe! Or when an amazing opportunity materialises. It’s a good way of leading operationally and strategically as a matter of course.

I’d like to share that way with you. Let me know if this helps you too.

Fight, freeze, flee; have a cup of tea!

Fight, flight, and freeze are animal instincts triggered by your “lizard” brain. You will have noticed your own reaction to crises and the reactions of those around you.

Maybe you have gone into instinctive decision-action mode yet noticed colleagues and other stakeholders who have withdrawn and curled up, and others who have busied themselves with non-essential stuff and needed help to become more functional.

On the other side of these instinctive reactions, leaders need to access the slower firing “modern” brain in order to take in a situation, make sense of it, and chart a way forward. Think of taking a moment, having a cup of tea, and having a jolly good think and chat about what’s going on! Think of this as an opportunity to lead by asking and finding the answers to critical questions.

And if you ask questions which are linked to your values and strategic business drivers the answers will open up ways towards keeping your show on the road and achieving your purpose.

The Decision Wheel

The Decision Wheel is derived from how the military and emergency services think and act their way through everything from the immediacy of an incident to longer term planning of strategic campaigns.

It’s about how to think rather than what to think. This is critical in both senses of the word.

In practice, it is natural to find yourself circling back and forth before completing one cycle of the wheel, especially between Options and Factors & Filters. Think of it as a set of cycles within the larger cycle.

Please help yourself. It this can work for you then please put it to good use. Right now, this model works well for us.

If you’d like a chat about decision making in your business, let me know. It is central to the work we do helping chief executives build highly effective leadership teams.

Best wishes,

Dave Stewart
Chief Executive
The Fresh Air Leadership Company

Helping chief executives build highly effective leadership teams