HOW TO MAKE BIG DECISIONS WHEN FACING AN UNPREDICTABLE FUTURE

Business owners are being asked to create a vision and a strategy for an uncertain future. Many entrepreneurs are struggling to predict what the next 6 weeks might have in store for them, let alone having a strategy is for 6 months or several years. In times like these, we need to examine our thinking style. Let me introduce you to two ways of thinking:

1. Binary thinking right/wrong, yes/no, good/bad, start/finish.

2. Directional thinking – moving forward, a step closer, lighter grey/darker grey, an experiment, an opportunity to learn, smart-ish, safer, right-ish, wrong-ish, finished-ish.

When you look closely at successful people, few of their decisions were black and white and obviously safe. Safe decisions don’t provide a payoff. Safe and clear decisions are actually dangerous for a person who’s seeking the rewards of entrepreneurship. If the decisions don’t feel risky and incomplete, then the opportunity is too obvious and therefore too contested.

Directional thinking is suitable in the domain of uncertainty. It’s the thinking required to keep the many moving parts of a business moving roughly toward a desirable outcome – more often than not.

Directional thinking doesn’t resolve any tension. It doesn’t feel safe or complete. Therefore, it requires emotional intelligence.

In a fast-changing world, anyone who thinks they have clear cut answers about the future is shutting down their ability to see what’s actually happening and respond accordingly. Likewise, anyone who hesitates while they look for a well-defined path will get left behind.

As entrepreneurs (especially now) we must stop looking for clear answers. Stop the quest for a beginning or an end. Let go of clear boundaries. Make your guidelines broad at best. There are no right answers – only directionally correct answers.

Some decisions you make will be wrong. You will have to back out of a course of action that seemed wise a month ago. You might have to pay the price for ordering too much or too little from a supplier. You may have to have some tough conversations with people about why you’re zigging now when only yesterday you were extolling the benefits of zagging. All of this is better than the alternative of being paralyzed by fear or attempting to get things “back the way they were. 

The only way forward in this transformational time is to make decisions that are mostly right, sort-of right, on-balance right based on all the incomplete information we have access to.

Be ok with grey. Be ok with being slightly off the mark, or not even knowing exactly where the target is. The best decisions right now are directionally correct.

Source: entrepreneur

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