A decision accomplishes nothing except creating momentum in a particular direction. Deciding to get married, for example, does not create a long and happy marriage — it just sets the possibility in motion. What decisions do is break gridlock; they focus staff energy and build momentum to do the work. Make a decision — manage the consequences.
When I was growing up in Cayuga, Indiana I enjoyed playing basketball on the school team. In basketball, if you have an open shot, you don’t stand there for ten seconds analyzing the physics — you take the shot. But you don’t assume it will always go in; you optimize the outcome by immediately moving into a position to get your own rebound in case you miss.
Working with nonprofits I developed ways of talking about momentum that empowered people to keep moving forward at all times, even when it was hard to predict what could happen next. Most people over-analyze decisions and under-manage the consequences. Given the choice between waiting for complete information and riding momentum, I will take momentum every time.
- Do you make decisions quickly, or spend too much time analyzing?
- How could rapid decision-making accelerate your organization?