Solving the messy puzzle (and sorting out the wonderful interconnectedness of big and small decisions)

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Sometimes it is good to get away. We’re in a New Jersey community about an hour from New York City/Newark for a family event. In the hotel room with my family (sleeping), I’ve been mulling over several business challenges — big and small — and seeking resolutions to the questions.

Most of the details of the choices to make, and the assessment of possible consequences, must remain confidential — in part because I haven’t decided what to do yet. And that is the frustration. There are compelling reasons for decisive action; and compelling arguments for inaction. Each of the decisions weighs on others, so the change in one place will have (sometimes difficult to anticipate) impact on others.

I’ve experienced these sorts of mind-boggling business puzzles before, and usually one of three things happens.

  1. I take the easy decisions and defer the tough ones. Sometimes the “tough” problems just go away or are superseded. (Of course, sometimes things get worse.)
  2. A major, existential crisis forces me to take radical and seemingly totally risky decisions (at least in normal times). Not surprisingly, these critical crises happen relatively rarely. I’ve been fortunate in handling them correctly. It could be, as well, that while the crisis forced a tough decision — I had enough data and knowledge ahead of time to be confident than when I really had to do what needed to be done, it would be the right thing.
  3. I consult with trusted advisors, listen to employees and contractors (and often my family) and decide based on their input. Sometimes in these circumstances the decisions are different from what I would have expected in the first place.

I’ll answer the current challenges by writing out my key decisions on a matrix, listing the risks, potential advantages, input options, and relationships, and then set out to implement the choices.

The great thing about really tough decisions is that they keep me awake, alive and connected to the business. It isn’t always fun to make tough choices, but it is wonderful to be able to make them.

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