Screw-ups, scrambles and strengths: Looking into the decision-making process

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Six Flags at Katrina
The Six Flags amusement park in New Orleans, after Katrina. The person who took this image visited the defunct park after the devastating flood. Can we anticipate everything in business?
nepal earthquake
The Nepalese earthquake: A news item — but something much more significant if we or someone we know were caught in the story. Of course, the images I can provide for this blog posting describing the intersection of business and personal challenges can only relate to highly public and visible events — but there are crises and joys that are much more private shaping our lives and decisions.

Some days in business are more intense than others. You can be bombarded with questions, requests, observations, corrections and spam. In businesses/households where the email stays on into the evening, this stuff can go on long after regular business hours (worse, even when the business and its supply network has an international framework.)

Then add the other stuff to the mix: Our personal circumstances. Odds are, if your business and client/supplier base have more than just a few people, some individuals within your chain/orbit will be experiencing acute or grinding personal challenges (and maybe joys). Sometimes the personal news can be quite mixed. We all have our own lives and ongoing stories.

Within these frameworks, we make or await decisions and the chances of screwing up, either on a purely business or a business-to-personal level, are rather high.Thread marketing and business development issues/decisions into this mix, and you can see how the story can quite often fall off the script.

Example: the project screw up

We are working on a publication with some theme features. The salesperson originally assigned to the project left the company some months ago, rather abruptly, with performance/unresolved personal issues. The bench-strength back-up person has turned out to be incredibly capable, radically capturing new business and setting the stage for a profitable project.

Thinking I understood the nature of the work, I pulled the various pieces together and had our designer build a mock-up for a final sales pitch. The designer, fulfilling our request to move quickly, submitted results that seemed incongruous. I suggested a quick fix. Then another person, who helped to originate the project, piped in: “Don’t you realize these things you’ve joined into one are to be separate features — and you are missing a full-page advertisement for one of them from a key participant.”

Back to the drawing board we go — as I had missed some key details. Fortunately this problem has a silver lining — additional revenue — and we have time to make it right.

Six Flags at Katrina
The Six Flags amusement park in New Orleans, after Katrina. The person who took this image visited the defunct park after the devastating flood. Can we anticipate everything in business?

The examples that cannot be shared

It is wrong to go into highly personal stuff in this blog, so I won’t do it. Suffice to say, I know of some circumstances where turmoil, stress, and personal challenges among individuals around me are intense, my own family is experiencing a bittersweet transition, and others are celebrating really happy events. This is the real world. (And there could be plenty of news, especially among clients and suppliers more than one degree removed, that we don’t know.)

You can argue that the personal stuff doesn’t affect business, and shouldn’t matter. But it does. The challenge: to respect privacy, allow for growth and to enjoy the happy occasions, all in the same day. Maybe here we can learn something about management from religious clergy and leaders, who must work on these levels day in and out, 365 days a year.

The conclusion: As you tackle your AEC marketing and business development responsibilities, remember that the story you share needs to be communicated to others, individuals and businesses with their own circumstances, challenges and choices. If you combine respect with resourcefulness, thankfully, you can recover from your blunders and even turn them into additional (or recovered) sales/business development opportunities. We don’t live in isolation, however, and need to respect the forces and relationships outside of plain sight.

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