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Opposition and Options For Better Decisions December 21, 2011

Posted by Tim Rodgers in Management & leadership.
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Last month I wrote about the quality risks that an organization faces when a senior manager won’t take “It can’t be done” for an answer. See Accidentally Sacrificing Quality. When faced with opposition to their ideas and proposals, it’s natural for leaders to look for barriers that can be identified and overcome. When the arguments against the new plan aren’t supported by data or logic, it’s unlikely that leaders will take them seriously and will instead insist on full speed ahead.

Decision makers may rely on their own intuition and judgment, but they need information to guide their choices. If you really want to get a better result, then don’t tell me what we can’t do, and don’t just go along with the first idea that pops into my head. Give me options and help me assess the costs and risks of each. This means coming up with alternate ways of getting the desired outcome, which also means that you have to understand what the desired outcome is (and if that’s not clear, ask). Also, don’t assume that we face hard constraints. There are laws of physics that can’t be violated, but some of the best ideas come from imagining what we could do if we weren’t limited by time or money or other resources. Good leaders invite opposition and alternatives, and those who work with them should find a way to provide both.

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