July 2013


imagesIts hard to imagine but over four decades ago I stepped off a plane and on to Asian soil.  Little did I know that a region would be the opening and the ending to a life long journey.  Maybe it was the opposing contrast between my life in rural New England (USA) or simply the fascination with the way Asians embrace existence.  Amidst the current day barrage of food critics, travel correspondents and the seamless introduction of Eastern communication into the West, Asia is and will remain a continent of diversity and intrigue.

As I wander about both rural and urban settings I am confronted with smells, sights and the curious looks of people.  A foreigner in a land that views me as different and yet willing to embrace most anything that comes my way.  Food that would grossly fail Western health standards, law and security forces that wear a belt devoid of a weapon, smells that would leave an uneasy belly queasy, and sights that cause you to wonder whether its poverty or normalcy.   Many Some while back I had to adjust to viewing things differently.  Westerners who visit or stay in Asia struggle with adjustment.  Its not uncommon to hear laments that usually start with “back home…” or “in {Australia} or {USA} or {London} this would…”.   I’m not saying we have to case aside our history but rather we must give way to these feelings that things in Asia must be like our past.

Economic Calamity

Asia is booming.  Fueled by low wages and massive capacity it is set against a humble, almost survivalistic based life style.  Aside from a growing class of people who seek some of the more Western lifestyle privileges most remain content to enjoy a simply upgrade.  Those added fruits are diverted toward family, investments in education for the next generation, and possible some fundamental health care options.  I sometime feel that maybe they got the right attitude… live life right today because tomorrow may bring a return to where we may have come from.

Looking about the not so Western sections of these Asian countries, both urban and rural, you see communities.  The often ramshackle dwellings, naked children, stray pregnant mangy animals and the scavenging for cast offs isn’t poverty…. its a normal way of life.   Even Asian governments who cast attention to these situations come to realize that their windfall attention only fuels more wanting.  The result will remain the same and continue to do so because its the real tapestry of Asia.   Efforts targeted at groups of society will not work, they must embrace the the entire population to make a sustainable difference.  Infrastructure, services and food supply are just a few examples where efforts pay dividends.   As a businessman the development of these universal focal points are essential for country growth.  Protectionist policies, intended to insulate populations from competition in and of themselves creates an atmosphere where foreign capital investment doesn’t occur and the population remains captive to limited options.  In this world we can no longer be independent and not a part of the global community.  Like it or not we have as much of a role to play as we have a need to embrace the desires of others.

Food Is the Primal 

A not so profound statement but it has a much deeper meaning that one might expect.  Whether its rice in Asia, yams in Africa or potatoes in Ireland basic foods make a society.  It serves as the fuel from which work and societies are built.   It reflects the character of the available food chain and it preparation based on available means.  Last summer while at the Rockefeller Foundation, Bellagio Center, I had an interesting discussion with some experts on nutrition in the global context. Their work was focused on tackling the daunting challenge of healthy eating.  Although not being a nutritionist I do have a general understanding of what is healthy and what is a bit decadent.  While I listed to the goals, purpose and direction that they were pursuing I couldn’t help but share that a Western perspective on what is right or wrong with nutrition wasn’t right for the Asian (or for that matter African) context.  Nutrition is a matter of survival and not necessarily means for enjoyment.  Options are limited in every aspect of the nutritional landscape from preparation to choices.  Western societies attack the African and Asia food priority based on models that run contrary to reality.  Except for possibly urgent starvation nutritional needs almost everything else is grossly converse to being a workable solution or model.  This brings me full circle back to perceptions vs. reality about Asia.  One cannot simply read a book, make a couple (dozen even) visits and say they new Asia.  Whether you backpack around a country, visit as a business person or endure a stint as a resident expert you are still a foreigner.  In this context I mean a foreigner not in being but in the sense about understanding.  Asia is as diverse as Georgia is to New York or London is to Munich.  It takes time, maybe even a life long one, to understand and appreciate the full range of happenings that affect change but also the interplay with Asia.  Over and over again attempts to be a part of the Asia scheme have not turned out as planned.  Their closely guarded secret of non-success gives way to convenient excuses that legitimize the reality but turns a blind eye towards the real truth…. Asia is different from YOUR place in this world.  Just within the Asiatic region the variations in every single aspect of life is different.  Food, culture, languages, economic and governmental climates and the ways of doing things are different.  In all fairness sometimes us foreigners come off as all knowing and this doesn’t fit well in Asia since these are ancient societies.  But because the West has rapidly developed we have also learned and experienced some of the developmental mistakes that the Asian emerging nations are now facing.  Traffic, public safety and commerce are a few of the areas where experience is driven by experience and not based on historical longevity.  But for those looking or making an emerged presence in Asia it takes understanding.  It will require local perspective but that same perspective must be carried out by those that have Western or global intimate understanding.  This transcends a foreign derived education, a visit to the West or even a relationship abroad…. it demands much much more.  Time and again those that have been successful in Asia have this characteristic or have sought out expats who are now within the Asia region to bridge the gap.  But caveat emptor all parties need to appreciate the context of both worlds and cast authoritative opinions with a plural focus, ignoring all the while the temptation to become over reliant on one or the other.

ImageFor more than 2 decades companies have sought help ranging from sales to software engineering.  The proposal enriched with ‘potential’ but absent of the basic support required to set the course for potentially amazing success.  In those years past it wasn’t all that unusual to accept such an offer, after all the ability to create outcomes was for the taking.  Services were in demand, software could be created nearly instantaneously (possibly even using some prior non-proprietary work performed) and it could all be done at the bat of an eye.  Since those early years allot has changed and not for the betterment of those asked if they wish to be involved in a pay for performance contract.

I think just about anyone can appreciate the fact that when we pay someone based on delivering a service this is a very favorable position.  If I contract to paint a house and perform the work then I expect to get paid.  But here are some of the issues with the ‘pay for performance agreements’.   First of all you have to purchase materials, hire workers, perform the work and possibly even have to rent some of the speciality equipment to do the job.  You perform this work to an exacting standard that is limited to choice of paint color for the property.  Now the day of payment comes along and either the property owner doesn’t have the money, doesn’t like the work because they were expecting something different (which they hadn’t specified) and has now told you that they will pay as soon as they sell the property.  While this may be the tactic used by those who are trying to take advantage of your services its often the case that the property owner is in fact financially inept.   Almost all contracts driven by the ‘pay for performance’ paradigm sit in this very state.  They find it a convenient way to get work done and you the contractor assume all of the relationship risk.   Reflected below are some of the real issues,

  • weak, inadequate and non-existing operating investment, by the contractor, spill over to those that may engage to perform ‘pay for performance work’,
  • ‘pay for performance’ contracts overlook fundamental time and cost investments needed by those doing the work,
  • ‘pay for performance’ often presents a glorious future but fail to show the rocky path to get to that point.  Such matters as pay to be received after customer payment to the contractor and contractor delivery performance itself can put your payment at risk.  You did  your part… but now you are deprived because of matters outside of your control.
  • To further sweeten the deal is renewals and what you will get paid without any real additional work.  This is a shot in the dark… it again depends on service delivery and outcomes both of which may be a bit misguided and represented by the contractor.

As a person or company considering ‘pay for performance’ its best to use these as a fill in when you have a lead as a part of your normal business that might provide value to the particular client.  But its the result of cast off opportunities and not proactive pursuits.   For all others the concept of ‘pay for performance’ simply doesn’t make sense because you are taking all of the risk that isn’t being shared by the direct beneficiary of the work performed.

I know allot of companies use this model to remove uncertainty and to force performance.  But keep in mind that if you are asking someone to float your business pursuit on their backs it will seldom work.  People and companies can only be so benevolent and when doing so they wish a bit of leeway in terms of payment certainty.   Recently I was asked to do a ‘pay for performance’ engagement.  My first inkling came from the fact that an opportunity was offered but no financial terms discussed.  Its sweet tone, driven by responsibility and title, was set as a bait for me to take (but too many years, despite friendships, have taught me to be cautious).  When I presented the question directly was when I was first told that it was a commission only, another name for ‘pay for performance’, arrangement.  To soften the negativity accolades were given about my talents, abilities, experience and client connections.  Again I refrained for falling for these appeals to my ego, after all if all this was so special then why wasn’t some stipend paid to cover a portion of my out of pocket expenses and a wee bit of my time?  It is once again… a part of the ‘pay for performance’ dance.   One has to make a decision whether to say NO or whether to ACCEPT.  In my case I chose to strike a solution in between which pointed to an inadequacy in the success formula of the contracting company…. that is lead generation.  They had no lead generation, market promotion or even specific focus on who they were wishing to specifically attack.  Aside from the most general of general field views one could not possibly consider it any shape or form a plan for success.  I suggested that if they would generate leads I would followup and sell into these organizations for a straight fee to cover my time and expenses.  You only pay for what you use and create.  As an additional suggestion I proposed a monthly stipend that would entitle them to a fixed number of contacts, again generated by them, but would also include serving as a regional representative for their entrepreneurial enterprise.   In short, both were rejected.   I don’t think that the numbers were out of line and in fact they were quite reasonable in the face of local labor standards.  It seems that their ambitions are captivated around a model that doesn’t work and they can’t see their way to consider alternatives in which they take on a portion of risk to their own benefit potential.

So, where does this all leave us??

  1. Companies must realize that fundamental capitalization is required for ALL endeavors.  If you don’t have the funds obtain them, generate them or avoid the pursuit (regardless of the merits).  I suspect that the pursuit, while being a great idea, still has some doubts in their mind that the markets will accept them.
  2. Individuals must understand the degree of risk they wish to undertake.  In doing so also be willing to take on the costs, which in real terms are the out-of-pocket expenses.  Your time… well you have to decide whether you wish to put that at risk or not.  For me if I have the choice of working for nothing and spending money that I may not be able to recover I just as soon do something that will put food on the table.
  3. Pay for Performance isn’t all bad.  Its only bad when conditions are such that readily available cash flow can not be achieved to recover personal investment risk.   Rapid turnaround, ready market, and commodity sales are all types that may be suitable for ‘Pay for Performance’.  Even then you still need to ascertain the extent of risk and personal self investment that will be required.
  4. The value of Pay for Performance is not with skilled, experience and professional resource candidates.  The disconnection between the question of performance and the elevated performance potential carried by professionals is significantly different and must give way to model concessions.

In short, am I in favor of ‘Pay for Performance’?  I would have to say no, even as an entrepreneur who might wish to defer risk to the candidate.  It is my feeling that even when done that it doesn’t create a climate that will optimize potential.  Robbing innovation, creativity and ambition the candidate becomes fixated on survival and personal cost recovery.  This does very little to creating a durable pipeline of opportunities or to endear a lasting relationship that affords experience development.

ImageToday is my birthday and while youthful in mind I am far less so as to the number of years that I have accumulated in life.   As I sit thinking about the power, influence and possibilities for the youth that will lead tomorrow it seems befitting to share some wisdom.  Some will simply read this and move on knowing much better than I as to what needs to be done and how it should be carried out.  Others will give some consideration but unfortunately most won’t read this post at all.

Being in the youth category is a measure set on age and not based on experience.  Sometimes armed with a sufficient amount of formal education one often thinks (as I remember back to my early adulthood) that you have the magic answer that none of your elders have.  This might be true but one must also consider the impact of change.  Change can be exciting and might even be viewed as the miracle to solve all issues.  Yet change carries with it downside risk, challenges in securing adoption (which leads to concessions which then creates added problems and unfortunately chaos).  Although the Arab Spring wasn’t a  youth movement it can be seen as an example of what change can do.  It hasn’t been positive and although a President has been ousted from office the economy and society lies in shambles.  Blame runs rampant an excuses can be found on every street corner.  What was touted as positive is far from that today… it will take decades to return the countries involved to a state of tranquility and sustainable economic stability.

As the youth of today you have mass, this is a power and one that should be exercised with responsible care and refrain from reckless abandonment.  One must develop abilities, commit to intense evaluation, and formulate a direction that the masses can follow.  A former boss once told me that you can’t have knowledge about everything but you can utilize the know how of those that do.  I encourage this and to chart a course to which you will be proud of the results and not simply a catalyst that produces results that will burden you.

Crisma is a naughty sin.  We fall prey to its grasp and a sense of self-worth when we align ourselves around popularity.  Maybe its a movie star or a singer, possibly its a sport figure or someone that has high name (brand) recognition.  The charismatic individual is you, not who you aspire to be like or idolize.  These individuals success can be attributable to allot of factors, some in luck others in talent but certainly these tracks of success often have little to do with social reform, only social activism.  I sometimes wonder how these people can possibly image that they speak on behalf of others or what gives them the ability to exercise judgements that are based on inadequacies.  It is their opinion certainly, and this carries with it a degree of impact to followers, but is the privileged platform being exercised responsibly?  I don’t think so…. pick you poison and deliver it by using the power in a beneficial way.

In closing…. may International Youth Day 2013 be productive, beneficial and one that reflects responsible behavior and not one marred by power misuse.

ImageMuch is made about the Cloud and how it can alleviate the burdens and challenges that companies face.  Capacity planning, elastic flexible sizing, data repository custodianship, resource management and security are but a few of the services lifted off the backs of conventional corporate IT departments.

Where I am a bit up in the air and quite surprised that its not more obvious (from a scan of the top 10 cloud providers) is the lack of  mention relative to application hosting.  While mention is given to services that are provided, like IT development and operational elements little if any visibility is given to hosted application services.  Maybe this is an assumed or is it a matter that the issues surrounding operational support is a bit too challenging, even if the customer performs remote computing control?  Making some inquiries, and again this is to front line sales people they all responded that they could (not to my surprise) but few details emerged that one could review or to take those first steps to act upon.   So… is the cloud simply a mist for data support and the occasional server supported application, using some sort of proprietary tool as is the case with Google OR is it really a full blown cloud capable of doing everything that you would expect your IT shop to do?   Maybe some of you have some examples of cloud hosted,

  • ERP,
  • Internally developed applications, and
  • Other forms of application service support not covered through the use of cloud proprietary technologies.

Pretty ‘Good’ Job

ImageIt is pretty fair to say that clients and providers are doing a respectable job at making sure that all of the nuts and bolts of the operation in place.  Security, contingency planning, backup, capacity management and technical services are sound and consistent across the board.  There will always be needs for improvement and its a normal expectation that with any significant infrastructure investment that this will occur without exception.  When looking at cloud providers that are foreign based one must confirm that the same level of qualification is being exercised.  This is not a matter of distrust but rather a matter of local viewpoint and possibly even access to critical key elements (readily available in N.America and Europe but not so elsewhere).  Even when the cloud is used for local support in a foreign nation there are level-set expectations that must be fulfilled and are considered mandatory.

Johnny Come Lately

ImageLarge scale companies have made an entry into the cloud service space.  The name carries with it a certain level of expectation but is it fair to assume that a large prominent player has the requisite abilities to be cloud proficient?  One must always evaluate, without exception.  Unchecked assumptions cannot provide you with certainty… so do your homework and make sure that the provider not only has the right climate but also the ability to carryout the services that are needed in both the near and long term.

Don’t Run

ImageThere is definitive separation between running and walking.  Transitioning the domiciled environment to the cloud is best called a speed walking exercise.  Its not too slow and certainly not too fast but its at a pace brisk enough that a rapid speed of transition can be carried out with appropriate care.  Clearly defined benchmarks, schedule, check points and confirmation v&v (verification and validation) permit speed walking to occur.  Unfortunately the tendency to run can best be called ‘baptism by fire’.and is sometimes considered possible because the controls (as noted previously will overcome all obstacles…. they won’t!) will compensate.   Speed walking transition permits initial experimentation and interactive adaption toward final rollout.  Even cautionary efforts where you roll just a single service to the cloud may be a bit too slow.  Its best to also have a hearty bite of transition in order to make it economical.  Doing 4 transitions of 4 single application services is more expensive than doing 1 or 2 transitions because of time and duplicated resource commitment.  So venture forth in a vigilant precautionary fashion!

In the Beginning

ImageAs I mentioned the lack of visible application service support, in a definitive fashion, has left me lukewarm.  While I know its technically possible its more a question of interest and offering on the part of the cloud service providers.  Its important that this be addressed definitively and without waffling on this matter.  Clients will review and determine the legitimacy of this service but also are quite open and willing to entertain.

Clearly the client’s IT leadership is not looking for simply service hosting, they are looking for provisioning (the ability to accommodate and address a total set of needs, not just partial hosting).  To that end one must question and probe at each and every corner of the cloud community services.  These are long term commitments and not short term ventures.  At first… maybe, as a means of cautious exploration, but if the results are a ‘green’ light then one can expect enduring commitment (or until pain becomes so severe that it no longer is tolerable).

ImageWe are all tempted to a certain extent by fate.  Tempered with intelligence and experience we hope to make sound decisions that will result in very predictable outcomes.  However not all things turn out the way we plan.  In the moment of despair regret and its close friend remorse enters the picture.  Sometimes they even bring along a mature relative know by most as the ‘Pity Party’ and everyone loves one of those.  It reminds me allot of Dobby the male closet elf from Harry Potter who moaning laments gave rise to his level of sadness.

I was asked whether I regret and my answer was ‘no’.  It seems a bit hard and pompous answer but I don’t regret but I learn.  I learn that I have made bad mistakes and good decisions.  I have learned a number of life lessons that has helped to navigate the turbulent waters of life.  New hazards will present themselves, new opportunities will pass you by and some could have been the ship of fortune that you had been waiting on for decades. Regret is not a friend but a debilitating enemy, waiting to consume your every actions, obscure your vision on taking right (remediation steps) and consume much more energy than producing value.  The title phrase… ‘Woulda-Coulda-Shouda’ is really the prescriptive medicine for learning and not lament.  It helps you to remove emotion and contribute value in the form of lessons learned.

Is Personal and Professional Regret Different?

ImageObviously the object is different and possibly personal regret is more about the heart and professional a bit more aligned with a productive existence.  For me they are commingled and play off of each other.  Loyalty, goals, plans, expectations, commitment are just a few examples that exists in both.  I’m no clinical psychologist (as you probably figure out) but I know from first hand account that regret and remorse is a reaction to an outcome to which we made a decision on.  Regret and remorse, left untreated with additional unacceptable outcomes taking place is why people jump off bridges, overdose on drugs or find other creative ways of ending the pain.  Rather the treatment isn’t in finalization, its not in the pity party interlude but in learning.

Regret Learning

Constructive regret learning cannot occur until you reach a place of clarity and tranquility.  ImageIf you are in the throws of regret and remorse you are not prepared to learn.  Every step when you are in this unhappy place will look either like excuses or implausible answers. One must be in a good place, willing to review, contemplate and to take that hard look into the mirror.  You may not like what you see, but you can do something about it.  Possibly its acceptance or maybe its simply a matter of acknowledgement.  At the center has been those things you have done to contribute to the situation.  A wife who leaves her husband may have cause… possibly its his disrespect of the wife or possibly its the wanderlust of the woman.  In this simple example one can say that the husband could have treated her with respect.  But in the other part of this example the wanderlust of the wife you can’t control but the decision to marry her in the first place (and possibly having turned a blind eye to her behavior with a degree of hope) is clearly your fault and should be admission to make decisions based on what is and not what you might wish.

Conclusion Regret

ImageI bear no regret for sharing this information nor ending this contribution.  I learn that to give rise to a topic of the moment is a good thing.  That a value product is produced with thought, contemplation and dialog.  So while I bear no regrets and look forward to those moments when learning and growth can occur

ImageLiving life isn’t easy.  We look fondly upon those that have achieved and seek their wisdom as to how they gone to this pinnacle of success.  These often state the most obvious of obvious rules…. work hard, be ahead of the game, be creative and so on.  But these are simply pointing to rules of conduct and fail to dig to that next level of detail which unlocks what really makes a difference.  Tony Robbins probable comes the closest to unlocking the Da Vinci code of success or should I say “healthy conduct” precipitators. He suggests such rules as;

  • Success Leaves Clues
  • What is the Purpose (some might consider this to be VALUE)
  • If committed there’s always a way
  • The more rules the less happy you will be
  • The past does not equal the future
  • Reasons come first, answers come second
  • At the moment of decision your destiny is shaped
  • Most people fail not for a lack of plan but as a result of a lack of advice
  • Demand more of yourself than for anyone else

All of these Tony Robbins’ quotes speak to you as a person how to achieve comfort in yourImage life (and not a guarantee as to the outcome but at minimum you will be at peace).

There are a few rules that I believe are important also in your personal and work life.  While not as famous as Tony Robbins they have none the less but instrumental to my work and throughout my life.  Most of these are principals applied in a much different context but in true form I have applied them to other more practical events.

  • “For Every Action There is a Reaction”:  This concept repeats itself over and over again.  Whether you build a software solution in which there is a problem, other problems will flourish around it.  If excellence exists the probability of error is nearly zero.
  • Pareto Principal (80/20 Rule):  Almost without exception this occurs time and time again.  Mainly this is caused by two factors:  it is unlikely that 100% will occur or that none will occur.  One would think that it would be more than 50/50 but because people or conditions are such that uniform distributions do not occur regularly (possible because we want to be different or we simply like to agree to disagree) it creates a shift in the midpoint.  Thus we can assume that if we aren’t going to get 0%, 50/50% or 100% that the result will be into the territory of the 80/20 rule (even when its 60/40 or 70/30… its considered Pareto!).
  • Yin-Yang:  Life and business seeks equilibrium and balance.  While we recognize that Pareto is a bit skewed in this respect we none the less seek balance.  A concept introduced in China its a bit ironic that for a concept introduced in China that they haven’t come to appreciate that their quest for world dominance.  Polarizing views and attitudes that work quite well within a centrally controlled nation create an enormous imbalance when it comes to economic dominance (thus the lack of Yin-Yang).
  • No Good Comes from Anger/Violence:  First of all if there was any good that comes from it, it would be change.  More often than not anger/violence precipitates more anger and violence.  Should this not be the case it often results in some loss. Therefore peaceful and more honorable measure create a stronger success likelihood than to vent anger.
  • Protection Means Defensive:  Whether this be your family or protecting the sovereign rights of a nation protection measures equate to being on the defensive.  More often than not protectionism results in problems.  Over protect the child they will rebel or become dependent, employ protectionism policies on a nation you will deprive economic growth and create isolation, and utilize protection practices in a business you will inhibit creativity.
  • Holism: Holistic thinking is the new imperative.  Industry of the 1800s and early 1900s were founded on craftsmanship.  The birth of the industrial age introduced commodity practices and placed craftsmanship as a niche, specialty group.  Craftsmanship remains higher value and higher cost, but lower volume.  Commodity thinking produces volume, lower cost and lower value.  Consumer demand drives us towards commodities and only occasionally to seek out craftsmen.  The backdrop to both of these modes is holism.  While the craftsman may focus on their trade the depth and breath of knowledge makes him/her a master and second to none.  At the sametime those industrialists who created and implemented commodity thinking had to be ‘big thinkers’.  When looking at people we can’t just look at them and say that we want a craftsman without insuring ourselves of their holistic abilities.  All too often we associate positions with craftsmen, like programmers, but fail to see that their thinking remains too narrow.
  • Hold Yourself With Dignity, Honor and Respect:  Giving in to unbridled misguide behavior (usually the result of anger or fear) will produce no good.

Be righteous in your endeavors, committed to your cause, seek the advise of others and know when to make a decision.  These are all are the principals from which success is made.

Image

ImageI tried coming up with a catchy title but found that simple stating the word was enough.  It is fair to say that everyone likes freedoms.  Whether this is to chart your destiny or to deliver a certain outcome.  Speaking for myself I have told many a client that if they want to achieve there goals, and they have confirmed trust in me, to get out of the way and allow me to make (magic) it happen.  Very-very few permit this to occur out of fear that the ability to achieve an outcome is overshadowed by a certain corner of mistrust that remains in the minds.  So then we have to discuss what concessions that I will make (permitted barriers) and what ones they are willing to do.  Looking back on these I have found that history, while a great teacher, is also a demon that continually assaults trust.

Creators of Indecision

ImageIf the biggest reason for indecision is the self-imposed expectation that the answer has to be perfect. Unless you have a crystal ball or some inside information it is unlikely that your answer even then will be spot on.  I have worked with consultants who character phrase is “it depends”.  Answers like that leave me cold and in fact a bit agitated but it gives me absolutely nothing more than I have for information at present.  Project managers that I have worked with are undecided on how much longer the project will take and may even be unable to articulate what their present status is.  In part, this is caused by the demon of indecision but more likely its because they don’t have control of their project.  Specific outcomes must be driven and not permitted to free range.  Even more damaging is the lack of actions (a different form of indecision) whereby remedial actions can be taken or increase emphasis can be shifted to adjoining action activities.  No one is immune to indecision.  Even management suffers from this and just about every respected leader are ones that are willing to make decisive decisions, good or bad and appropriately responsive rather than opting for delay.

The Root

ImageThe start to overcoming indecision is a commanding understanding of the environment we are working from.  Casting aside the superfluous things and focusing our undivided attention to those aspects that drive, influence and facility positive results from the decision making process.  With this command one can then address the information, which may require added conditioning, to narrow issues of inaccuracies and false assumptions.  All of this is to achieve a level of comfort about the decisions we make.  I do suggest that critical decisions, either at the time of your first real step forward or for key/instrumental decisions be subjected to critical secondary review by someone else (either direct benefactors, unbiased parties or both).

Barter Kings

ImageWhether it be a contract or a service I have had to make decisions.  Since I am responding to a request I should know what to propose and what it will take in terms of money and effort.  The decision then opens the door for our first insight into whether we are spot on or whether we are some distance from a mutual agreement.  Just because you are a bit off doesn’t mean, if there is mutual interest, that the gap can’t be narrowed.  As the one providing the service you must recognize and understand the other party’s issues surround the gap difference.  At the sametime, and this isn’t always easy given the single focus on a particular need, the client must consider the impact influence on you.  This is partially tempered by respect, trust and possibly past history but even these elements will not simply close the gap… the gap must be closed through compromise.  If there is any hope in achieving a cooperative relationship keenly focused on achieving objectives must be harrowed within the offering and only influenced by these previously mentioned factors.

Just Say No

ImageManaging indecision involves knowing when to say NO.  While it may be work or a business decision it has its limits.  The tone of the interaction may very well make the NO a whole lot easier.  On the other hand saying NO means that one must take a difference course whether it be the reshaping of the item being decided upon or possibly seeking alternatives that you may be less familiar with.   Saying NO admits an impasse, something that cannot be overcome.  It means that one or both of the parties cannot move beyond a certain point.  During a review of 50 odd impasse cases 57% (28 situations) were less about insurmountable difference but rather the inability to look at constructive alternatives as a gap measuring event.

A profound example is when a customer comes to you with a service request with a definitive delivery need.  Under closer examination we discover that its impossible to achieve their delivery goal.  Our inclination is to say NO and this is what it will require (and unfortunately even then our estimate is founded on everything happening as planned.  This is seldom the case).  But we fail to recognize that what is being asked for by a particular undoable date may have alternatives.  Possibly a critical component partial delivery with the remaining work to be provided within an acceptable post period might be a possible.  This assumes two things; the first being the willingness to compromise and the second being a definitive command on the ability to deliver under this plan.  There is no room for vacillation, when they meet you part way you best make it happen without exception.

The Young and the Restless

ImageBeware… there are those that take on making decisions but lack credible evidence that they are doing this wisely.  Even worse is when those making decisions are relying on a successful decision and using that to base all future decision credibility on.  Each and every decision has risk and a level of impact.  The bigger the risk and the higher the impact the more protection we must provide around the decision.  Whether this be alternative choices or stop gap measures a definitive pre-defined notion must be ready to be turned on at a moments notice.

Indecision has a close relative… procrastination.  Procrastination is an acute form of indecision whereby we defer making a decision with hope that it will simply work itself out.  I’m sure you have all seen cases of this and when it does or doesn’t occur the really bad indecisive people will lay claim to the outcome.  Indecision on the other hand is more the case of a lack of confidence or the inability of the person.  They really would like, and this represents the majority of people, to make a decision but feel inadequate in make it.  These individuals have hope and they can be developed to take and make decisions.  Possibly it through limiting how much decision making power they have, sometimes it can also be achieved through training and mentoring/coaching.  None the less there is hope, there is possibilities and there are good reason to make decisions…. it charts our destiny.

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