In today’s hyper-busy business environment, we are bombarded with stimuli including email, instant messages, voice conference calls, webinars, net meetings, text messages and cell phone calls. Because of the high velocity of work within a typical work day, coupled with the needs of business, and channels for communication, I contend that business decisions get made much faster and are often of lesser quality than decisions made in the previous business generation. They may be based on more, and better, data however I believe that the decisions are of lesser quality due to time pressures, coupled with the expectation of decisions to be made quickly. Prior to the Internet, written hard copy (meetings and mail) and verbal discussion were the two primary channels for communication. The serial nature of these communications channels allowed a person to focus on one issue at a time and allowed more time for thought, reflection, and consideration of alternatives. In today’s environment, the expectation is that everything is fast, including the decision making process. Sometimes faster decisions are as good as more contemplative decisions. Other times however, faster decisions are not as effective because they don’t allow adequate reflective time in the process.
September 6th, 2008 at 8:45 am
As was noted in the comment above we do today live in a must faster pace of live. Because of the introduction of the new electronic age things are likely to be done between people who have never met face to face. In part this brings about certain levels of trust between parties involved in contracts and some types of agreements that are based solely on these internet or phone exchanges. The personal commitment is not always there to ensure that both parties end up with a win win agreement. We have seen many news stories, some most recently on stock investments that have turned out to be nothing more than frauds. We have also seen situations where people have advertised homes on places like Craigslist for rent that were not there’s to rent and were occupied by the real owners. Yet we have seen people of all ages taken advantage of in advertisements like this where they actually sent money in to rent these homes only to later find that they have been duped and all of their investment is lost.
Although these examples are very small compared to some the national news reports of a lack of business ethics that have been seen in the past we still today have to be on our guard any time we transact business ove rany electronic means when personal knowledge of the company or individual is lacking.
October 2nd, 2008 at 11:19 am
Yes, decisions are faster paced, but so is the data collection. What once took days or months to painstakingly collect from hand written notes now can be sorted, pivoted, graphed and same-timed with an entire project team in minutes. Blackberries now allow attachments and connections to databases so that managers can see trends and make decisions. The tougher thing to realize is these executives and middle managers will approach burn out much quicker. Many of the time saving devices turn into time sinks and managers spend more and more time at the office, even if in a virtual sense. One of Covey’s habits is for people to sharpen their saw, or, take time to regenerate yourself. It seems that in today’s “constant on” office, this is the detriment to decision making, not the decision itself.
October 8th, 2008 at 6:04 pm
Decision making today must be made quickly, there really is no other alternative. If you can’t, someone else will. Experience, knowledge, and the wisdom to use the two will increase the quality of the decision made. As decision makers, we must use prudence and not be afraid to collaborate with others, especially on decisions that affect the lives of the people whom we depend on for our success. There are tools available to help us make better decisions, but we must commit ourselves to using them. Information systems allow for the storage of mass quantities of information that can be used and shared quickly. The quality of the decision is based on the information gained and the courage to use it. As we move further into the technological age and advancements are happening so quickly that the advancements are out dated by the time they are installed, decisions have the potential to become more reactive than reflective. Another tool that is reemerging is Sociotechnical-systems. These systems allow for working groups to be responsible for their own outcomes through the interactions of people and technology. Instead of one person being responsible for the decisions of a group, the group has access to the information stored in the IS and use it to engage in collaborative decision making. STS promotes knowledge sharing, learning, and innovation and as a result there is an increase in productivity, satisfaction, flexibility, and competitive advantage. Yes decisions must be made quickly, however when they are made through a collaborative effort from more than one perspective the quality is likely to be higher.
October 11th, 2008 at 8:53 pm
I agree with 2598 that Socio-Technical Systems will be an enabler of higher-quality fast decisions. However, further value can be found in STS that are action research based. Action research allows a group to quickly form a decision (plan), and act on that plan, yet provide the opportunity to conduct a post mortem (continuous improvement). This way, you can back-load the decision with adequate (hopefully) reflection by the group and have ready answers for similar decisions.
October 16th, 2008 at 2:22 pm
The observation is absolutely accurate that we are forced to make decisions in today’s environment much faster than in previous generations. I believe that often the quality of decisions suffers because of this. Much of the driver behind the need to make decisions quickly is technology. Communication is instantaneous in today’s age and these results in a demand for instantaneous response. On the other hand, technology can also greatly benefit decision-making processes by virtue of the amounts of data available quickly and to wide groups of people. Decision-making processes are evolving just as communication and leadership is evolving. To compensate for the need for fast decision-making (and avoid hasty, poorly thought out decisions), I agree with the comment from 1598 that a collaborative approach is necessary. It now takes a combination of new data research skills and technology to elicit the information needed to formulate quality decisions. Utilizing a collaborative approach to that effort can gather information faster, as well as provide multiple insights into the issue at hand.
November 19th, 2008 at 8:46 pm
In my line of work I am faced with hundreds of decisions a day that are aided by technology but mostly I rely on feedback from coworkers who see things from different angles than I do. Over time I have learned how each of these people communicate and which ones I can trust to make the correct suggestion. In someways it is wonderfully collaborative, in other ways depending on the employee it can become a power struggle.
November 20th, 2008 at 7:27 pm
In my workplace, email threads have become a source of collaborative decision making, and also a source for people to vent. I agree with Woodchuck that I have learned which people are venting spontaneously, and which ones have put some thought into a response.
Also, I agree with the initial premise that technology is forcing quicker decisions, but this has resulted in less quality decisions. It’s amazing how quickly email chains can grow with opinions and brain drool. I have started resisting the temptation to respond impulsively to emails. Just because I get a new Inbox item, doesn’t mean I have to read it now.
John Luke Picard
November 23rd, 2008 at 12:29 pm
With the advent of the information age and the continued growth of the Internet, business decision makers are being forced to make quicker and quicker decisions. This is not likely to change and in fact the decision making process will only become faster. The old control and command structure where only a few people control the information is no longer adequate for the changing business environment. Organizations that have adopted socio-technical systems are much better positioned to make quick, quality decisions. This is due to socio-technical systems seeking to create an organizational context for knowledge sharing, learning, and innovation enabling information to be distributed throughout the organization. Leveraging this collective knowledge has the potential to greatly improve the quality of decisions organizations make.
November 24th, 2008 at 6:21 pm
Everything has gotten faster, from the cars we drive to the decisions we make. Some people do not like the speed of life these days and would like to see things slow down. But speed does not automatically produce something bad. Race cars are regularly hitting speeds of over 200 miles per hour. But the people driving at those speeds have learned how to go that speed safely and the cars are created for the purpose. Decision making could be thought of the same way. Decision makers (hopefully) have had practice making good decisions over time and they are utilizing technology created for the purpose. Decision makers have almost instant access to the information they need to make appropriate decisions and “socio-technical” systems enhance the decision making process because it is more collaborative. Just like the race car driver could not drive the car as fast as he/she does without the team, decision makers could not make good decisions without the input of their teams. Basically, making the right decisions in today’s fast pace business world comes down to having the right team, the right technology, and the right experience, just like driving that race car at its top speed.
November 27th, 2008 at 10:16 am
The writer of this evaluation has found several things to be true. Things do move much faster in a high technology world today than they did in previous times as recently as even 5 to 10 years ago. People are pressured to provide results sooner a many times with less information than before. We find in some cases those decisions are flawed because they were made without sufficient detail and thought given to the potential outcome of those decisions.
November 27th, 2008 at 9:10 pm
While it is true that information is bombarding us at an ever-increasing pace, and decisions are required almost instantaneously to be competitive; and that socio-technical systems facilitate and speed the decision process, a values-aligned leader should be able to stand firm and consult with God or others for wisdom when deemed necessary. The fact that so many do not do this anymore could be a factor in declining business ethics and values. “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.” (Prov. 12:15) “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberal and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (Jam. 1:5)
November 29th, 2008 at 3:45 pm
Like the Audi, business information is moving at zoom, zoom speed and by all accounts it is here to stay. A Google search of the topic Business Social Networking returned 611,000 sites and well known names such as IBM, Cisco, Microsoft, News Corp and others who are hitting hard in the ball park of social networks. While formerly thought of as a passing phase for youth, social networking is not only big business, it’s also big for business.
In a September 2008 Marketwire publication, the headlines intimate businesses improve sales, marketing, and project management through social networking. In an effort to capitalize on the opportunity of linking web services with customer service, IBM launched an initiative which anticipates trends in business, society and culture. This is just one way in which corporations are looking to utilize the internet to increase sales, service, and to draw greater and greater portions of the market share while streamlining personnel costs.
Successful corporations of today and tomorrow will need to be able to access information with increasing speed and flexibility. The ability to send or access relevant data through mobile devices makes it possible to take social networking and customer service on the road increasing the efficiencies and real time response. Integrated services keep corporations current with trends in spending, technology, and the competition, and it is apparent business social networking is merely in its fledgling stage as we begin to tap into the endless potential of the integrating the internet into the everyday business of business.
December 16th, 2008 at 12:15 am
Our nation is facing unprecedented economic challenge. Leading during an economic down turn is completely different from leading during prosperous time. During normal economic time, maximizing the profit is the main focus of business leaders. However, during financial uncertainty, the focus changes to ensuring company’s survival.
Suspending initiatives that do not bring immediate return and layoff seems common practice during recession. Economic down turn is not fun. It brings lots of anxieties and worry. One reason why people worry during recession is they only see dooms and glooms, not opportunities. I know a CEO, a leader of a company that is currently doing well. He started to freak out because of media reports. His company has twelve-month worth of work on its backlog, which is normal for that company. Instead of carefully evaluating his company’s current standing and appropriate readings of its future, he took the gloomy reports of CNN and snared by the trap of fear. Fear is contagious. That man’s fear spread all over the company and affect performance negatively. Fear for tomorrow has robbed today’s success. I am not suggesting media reports are wrong or leaders should ignore the amorphous crisis that is on the surface. What I am trying to say is leaders should not base their decisions on fear. Fear does not help overcome the challenge; it accelerates the down ward movement, instead. During economic down turn positive attitude and optimistic approach are keys for successful leadership. These keys will help locate opportunities that take the company from survival to competitive advantage.
March 2nd, 2009 at 3:32 pm
Our leadership styles, morals, and ethics shouldn’t change relative to the state of the economy. If we have a basis or a foundation for what we believe to be right and wrong, then we do not have the luxury of changing the basis dependent upon good or bad times. This is where so many of us in business and in leadership roles fall short. We forget who we belong to and take matters into our own hands forgetting to leave room for a miracle and allowing God to be faithful to His promises and us. In return, our fear should be absent as a result of our spiritual relationship and our decision making should not drastically change. Moreover, the information that we are inundated with on a daily basis should only influence our decisions to a certain extent. We must still seek out counsel.
Times change; Christ doesn’t.
March 4th, 2009 at 12:00 pm
My company is in the midst of many changes, mostly as a result of economic and strategic challenges. My early reactions were of discomfort and anxiety due to the quantity of change and our unknown future. Not anymore. Our company, and country, are in the middle of the epistemic gap, the knowledge gap of where we are now versus where we need to be, and the knowledge of how to get there. This is where impactful change and innovation can happen. When times are good, we sit back and enjoy the ride. ‘Living in the gap’ is a phrase I’ve started to use to describe a good place to be. Let’s embrace the challenge instead of worrying about it. Let’s build a vision of what the future looks like, develop solutions with a Christian Worldview, and become what God wants us to be.
March 4th, 2009 at 1:31 pm
On the first half of the contention, that decisions are made much faster, there is no argument. There is absolutely no doubt that the rate at which we make decisions is exponentially greater than we did even a decade ago. Information bombards us at all angles and levels. We have instant access to unthinkable volumes of information through the internet, and we can access this information nearly at will. We watch the news and not only hear what the anchor is telling us, we can also read blurbs of information on other news events that stream across the bottom of the screen. If we get bored with this news channel we can push a single button on a remote control for our television and pick from a wide variety of other channels that suit our desires. We are hard pressed in this society to avoid the information barrage.
But on the second half of the contention, that decisions are of a lesser quality than in previous business generations, I am inclined to cautiously disagree. I don’t believe that decisions themselves are inherently good or bad. It is the motivation behind the decision that determines its quality. As I write this I look around my home and consider all of the technological innovations that have been created within the past two decades that improve my quality of life either by convenience or safety: a cordless telephone that lets me communicate with people from anywhere in my home, and even outside if I want to; a computer on which I draft these ideas; an alarm system that notifies someone in the event an intruder forces his way through my locked doors or windows; a device that detects the presence of smoke and carbon monoxide; a vehicle in the driveway that is equipped with airbags for my safety and burns fuel at a far cleaner rate than the one my father drove; etc., etc., etc. These products are undoubtedly produced following a host of decisions that would seem to have been made in hast by anyone examining them a generation ago.
I believe that we – dare I say – are evolving alongside the technological age. We are growing accustomed to making decisions at an ever increasing rate, and our children and grandchildren will take their seats at the decision making table with more tacit knowledge than we ever thought possible. We are continually creating socio-technological environments that call for collaboration and the exchange and quick analysis of information. Where we tend to go wrong in our decision making is when our selfish sinful desires replace what God’s love and wisdom indicates what we should do or why we should be doing it.
March 4th, 2009 at 8:05 pm
John W. Aldridge, Ph.D., discusses the beginnings of socio-technical systems in 1949 by Fred Emery and Eric Trist. These studies approached the organization as a social system focusing wholly on group relations in depth on three levels including, primary work systems, whole organization systems and macro social systems. As time evolved into the technology age, the Internet and information systems (IS) hold the potential to link information technology (IT), such as search engines, message boards, e-zines, and knowledge management (KM), for instance, together with “tacit” experiences that connect people with technology. IS begun to accelerate communication, learning and knowledge sharing. Which began to beg the question, “in times of change, how does one ensure they are making quality and ethical decisions?”
Aldridge notes that on the surface such IT, KM, and e-learning have the appearance of a true socio-technical system. But not all efforts to connect people with technology are socio-technical systems. It really boils down to people. It is people and not technology that is changing the way organizations share, transfer, and leverage knowledge presenting socio-technical concepts to a wider field of possibilities. Technology has given us great tools to get the job done quickly and share that knowledge at the speed of light, but it’s up to us, people, to make sure that information is accurate.
March 5th, 2009 at 12:05 pm
I find this to be a rather easy thing to do if you have the tools and resources to act.
I have had times when my faith as a Christian has been tested beyond my perceived limit. However, rushing to judgment or to a solution just because the communication highway offers the opportunity to do so does not make it the right choice. In fact, I have a simple three step process I utilize when a situation like this comes into play:
2. Put it in perspective
March 6th, 2009 at 5:19 pm
Technology has increased both the rate and quantity at which we process information; it is only natural that this increases the rate at which we make our decisions. The “problem” (as stated above) is that this decreases the quality of the decision.
Playing the devil’s advocate, I have to ask why? If we have learned to process information faster and multi-task, then why wouldn’t we have learned to make decisions just as fast.
Often split second thinking can be the difference between life and death, deal or no deal… We have entered a new paradigm of thinking and conducting business, thus our processes must change as well. New business leaders will have the difficult task of making these decisions using morals, ethics, and values.
March 7th, 2009 at 11:56 am
I would agree that there are more decisions being made at a faster rate than ever before due to our complex and changing businesses. I have learned in the past to not make snap decisions or decisions where I have not looked and evaluated all of the available information or data. Although the decisions are more and the changing businesses are more complex there are also many more, new, creative and effective tools for making those decisions. We truly have it easy as long as we know where to find the tools and how to use them to become more effective leaders.
March 8th, 2009 at 3:38 pm
Let’s face it! Technology is now the driving force of business. As recent as the turn of the century email, cell phones, texting, and doing business online was all brand new, in a sense. With the advent of these technologies the expectation of productivity has increased. Sure, when these things were new it was something we all had to adjust to, but now, our children are obtaining their education using these technologies and we all have to adjust to. We should be getting used to making speedy, quality decisions and working at a faster pace. So long to the days when it took what seemed like an eternity to make or receive a decision. Why hold on to the nostalgia, let’s get with times!
The new leadership paradigm is one that embraces and effectively manages change, preparing for the technologies that will drive future business.
March 8th, 2009 at 8:19 pm
This is a great observation. I agree that the speed of information is moving faster than ever. Blackberrys and I-phones have the capabilities to run an entire operation literally at the palm of our hands. Unfortunately, many leaders feel obligated to make decision equally as quick. However, the great leaders of today realize that important decisions take time and adequate research, especially, if the decision affects human capital. Human capital is the one differentiating factor for organizations. Products, manufacturing plants, services, processes, and training can be copied, but human capital cannot. Therefore, it’s essential that leader reserve the time, research, and understanding necessary to make informed decisions regarding his or her followers. Otherwise, poor human capital decisions leads to higher turnover and loss of tacit knowledge. Leaders must realize that every employee must be treated differently when decisions are being made that affect his or her career. Therefore, some decisions can be made quickly, but human capital decision must be made thoughtfully.
March 9th, 2009 at 10:22 am
Today’s “hyper-busy” environment is definitely an issue and very much a change from 10 – 15 years ago. The current state of fast-moving technology changes and communication methods is “normal” to those who have only been in the business world for 5 years or so. Due to the pace of communications and access to information, today’s business leaders need to absorb more information, faster, and make more decisions, much faster than ever before. If decisions are not made quickly, opportunities are missed because someone else moves even faster.
Warren Bennis, in a 2001 Ivy Business Journal interview, calls this “speed leading”. He used an illustration from the military for decision-making called the “OODA” loop – Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. Bennis believes that this decision-making sequence does not work in today’s fast-paced environment. Now, we need an “ALA” loop – Act, Learn, Adapt (Bernhut, S., Managing the Dream: Warren Bennis on Leadership, Ivey Business Journal, May/June 2001.)
I agree that the risks can be high when decisions have to made so quickly, without appropriate forethought. There are a few things that can mitigate those risks. 1) Leaders who have strongly rooted values and base decisions on a strong ethical and Christian base. This can’t be done on the fly. These values need to be built and reinforced continually. 2) Developing a strong networking base of people with a variety of knowledge and skills to help contribute to data analysis, critical thinking and decision-making. 3) Critical Thinking skills in general. These are not innate. They need to be learned. And 4) An attitude of continual learning.
For someone who has been in the business arena for 25 years, the pace of today’s environment can be overwhelming at times. The items I stated above are things that are helping me to deal with the increasing pace, volume, and workload.
March 9th, 2009 at 2:33 pm
Speed, technology, Instant, quick everything…This is the way we think these days, yet we don’t live in a vacuum where the consequences of our actions show up immediately. Rewards might be gained instantaneously, not always, but often time other consequences take time.
View the time table on our economy not any of our problems today are reflected by one decision or accumulated instantaneously. We have just experienced an inauguration of a new president. Promises of change were made. How long will it take to fulfill those promises, and what is the time table of reward? We cannot estimate.
Just as we are reaping from the last eight years of our previous leadership, not all of the rewards or consequences are immediate.
Thus stating so, making decisions do require forethought, research, and intuitive thought processes. Quick is not always better.
As leaders we need to be more cognizant of this fact. Step back and seek, gain the knowledge we need to make sound decisions, and don’t hesitate to pray.
April 21st, 2009 at 2:40 pm
Making Quality/Ethical Decisions in Times of Change
Almost no one would try to predict with any degree of certainty what the world will be like in ten years. Things change too fast. When nothing is stable, people tend to make up their own rules. They make sense of the ambiguity and chaos they experience by deciding for themselves what is real and what is appropriate.
Recently, it has become clear that in high-pressure, high-velocity environments, some people in the energy-trading, telecommunications, and accounting industries simply made up their own rules. Enron is a typical example of what can happen when people decided for themselves what is real and what is appropriate. They ended up cheating, or lying, or waffling not only because it was to their economic advantage but because they had created their own rationale for what was acceptable. The danger of constantly changing conditions illustrates why ethics, values, and principles are more important now than ever. They serve as fixed points. They determine what is right and wrong, appropriate and inappropriate, on a universal basis, every time.
Integrity simply means maintaining unfailing values and principles, following through, doing what you say, being consistent, and reinforcing a fixed point. And the effects of integrity are obvious. Integrity allows people to trust in something, and to make sense of the situation even in ambiguous, turbulent, chaotic environments. It provides the basis upon which everything from the stock market to family relationships can continue to function successfully. Integrity makes management possible under conditions of change. In my opinion, the concept of change should never be used as a tool to make unethical decisions.
April 26th, 2009 at 10:50 pm
Yes, Technology is fast and important decision have to be made quickly but the successful leader well be prepared if his core character is intact. To be informed and experience is not always enough. I believe we lack spirit lead leaders in the business arena. You can gather information, follow the latest statistics or trend and still make the wrong decision. Businesses use to pray before and after meetings. They would not be ashamed to ask God for guidance. Technology may help you get ahead but who can get ahead of God? Don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying not to prepare and just pray. I am saying in addition to gathering information and collaborating stop and collaborate with someone who has all the answers.
April 27th, 2009 at 9:48 am
Another twist has been considered by this author when examining our culture and capabilities regarding business, ethics, how business culture so important in determining the right kind of change. There is a portion of the Bible, where there was an example of cultural and enterprising cooperation in human history has not experienced since the time it took place. That time which is spoken of is in Genesis chapter 11. Genesis speaks of a point in human history where they were collectively cognizant of the ability to accomplish such great things, they could build their buildings to heaven on their own (Genesis 11:1-6) (Bible, 1985). It was a time when there were no language barriers, a shared common culture, and considerable willingness for collaboration. All of which in our time today, is not experienced, at least on that level. One aspect that is in common with today’s world is the ever-present disposition in trying to leave God outside of human endeavor. Genesis speaks of a point in human history where they were collectively cognizant of the ability to accomplish such great things, they could build their buildings to heaven on their own (Genesis 11:1-6) (Bible, 1985). From the days of Babel, when mankind was so focused and intent to do such great things, so it is today as humans similarly consider the framework for our endeavors.
Today, there must be great care taken in being able to preserve the dignity of the person in the grand shift towards this collective thought. The reason being that mankind has and will forget again our founding heritage as the crown of creation by God (Genesis 1:26-29) (Bible, 1985). If God is not at the center of our view of mankind, regarding how people are treated, and viewed as infinitely valuable (Psalm 139) (Bible, 1985), this movement toward collaboration will meet a similar demise, as it has in other points in history.
John Alexander has some valid observations in seeing the trends of business and the marketplace. His main fallacy is that of world-view. If these trends of collaboration are not framed in Christian Theo-centrism, it will fail as another unredeemed attempt of fallen mankind. That is the lesson of the people of Babel. Even God has recognized mankind’s abilities for redeemed pursuits, and unfortunately toward ungodly pursuits as well. This is becoming the lesson for today: Will Americans forsake our heritage of being “One nation under God”, or will the Christian heritage this nation was founded upon be reclaimed and restored. In examining the Genesis account of Babel, this was a purely humanistic endeavor of the purest sense, and God judged the people of their time with communication difficulties that exponentially deteriorated their known culture and abilities as a cohesive people. If therefore, in our day, communications, complexities, and KM difficulties can be overcome (even if only at a certain level), how will mankind react in wielding this new (or rediscovered) power in the marketplace? The results of collaboration and workplace efficiencies will start to expand the organizations productivity toward who and what? Is there a view of God in our best laid plans? Within the natural, unredeemed man, the answer is no.
If God is not in the picture, the result will be similar to any other movement or endeavor in finance and business mankind has undertaken, and thereby have limited or unintended results. One may speculate what the results would have been if the people of Babel were redeemed in nature similarly to that of the regenerated Christian person. With their efforts, collaboration, culture and knowledge all pooled and subjected to honor God in all things. What would that look like? Mankind can experience at least a foreshadowing of this vision with what we have before us today. The best news of all is we will someday see that kind of culture and collaboration in its fullness, when “He will be our God, and we His people” (Revelation 21:1-4) (Bible, 1985). Mankind will probably have limited results in all their ventures until God rules in the New Heaven and New Earth. Mankind should not forget in its endeavors, the God who made us to be so creative and productive in the first place. And be willing to give Him the glory due Him as a people, and then the subsequent blessings of prosperity will follow a people who truly honor Him by the culture’s action as a whole.
April 28th, 2009 at 3:34 pm
Yes, we are inundated with information overload, and if only one person is making the decision, the results can be at risk. Fortunately, if working in an environment with an effective collaborative team environment, the decisions CAN be made faster, as you involve your SME in the process, rather than coming to a conclusion on your own.
Perhaps I didn’t make the connection between the title and the article, but not quite sure what the position is regarding the ethics in a quick decision…
June 15th, 2009 at 5:44 pm
Making quality/ethical decisions in times of change is a very important part of change management. Socio-Technical Systems (STS) can help with these decisions. STS emphasizes group relations; the way a group interacts with its self. If a group has good interactions and is free to make decisions they will help make the decisions that will make change possible. It goes back to when you created the group. Did you empower them to make decisions at their level? Is it written into their charter that they have the authority to request information, interpret that information and then make sound decisions based on that information? If so then you have started them off on the right foot as far as group relations go. You then have to allow them some time to get to know each other and see where they fit into the group. Once they have started truly working together they will be productive; you just have to take any road blocks out of the way for them. Knowledge Management is key at that point. Does your organization mange their information adequately enough that these groups would have access to any and all information that they may need? If so they will learn from the mistakes of others, they will see what has worked in the past, and they will use that knowledge to make quality decisions. They will make ethical decisions if they are encouraged to do so. Do their leaders show them that the company will not tolerate unethical behavior? If so they will know what is expected of them and will make the right, and ethical, decision. This will also be fed by an environment that encourages “outside the box” thinking. If they know that they will not be raked over the coals if they fail they will be more willing to take some educated chances and do more innovative things. All of these attributes and situations for group relations will better prepare them to face the challenges and problems that come with change. They will fix the problems and facilitate the change, if you have set them up for success and you get their buy-in.
Just a Vessel
June 20th, 2009 at 6:24 pm
Recently we’ve been inundated with faster, quicker, more available…. Sprint has recently introduced the PalmPre “designed for the Now Network”. The comparable original iPhone from Apple was introduced in the US in June 2007, and a year later it released the faster 3G version. However, John Stokes of Ars Technia is quoted as saying “my iPhone suddenly felt cold and played out” when he previewed the Sprint phone. In a year’s time? Maybe two? Although we like to receive information quicker, how accurate is it when we get it? Or, how well-thought out is the answer to the question in which we’ve proposed? I think that we should continue improving our technology and the way that we communicate on a personal and professional level, but it seems we sometimes risk the quality and integrity of the information we’re trying to obtain and the relationships we need to make. I feel that it is paramount to establish and maintain those professional and personal relationships in order to be successful and well-rounded. However, if the interaction between ourselves and our co-workers is only emails flying ninety-to-nothing, as they say, do we really know if what we’ve asked has been thoroughly thought out or researched or verified? I think in order to ascertain accountability, we need to slow down just a milli-second and focus on what it is we’ve been asked and/or has our information been disseminated as accurately as we anticipated? Two quotes that I like concerning this topic are: 1) “Do nothing in haste, look well to each step, and from the beginning think what may be the end.” by Whymper, Edward. 2) “He that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.” [Proverbs 28:20]
August 11th, 2009 at 1:20 pm
Yes, now days we make decisions in a blink of an eye. When you are offered a new job with more money do you stop to see if the new job is really what God wants you to have? I have taken a job, new one that was a decrease in pay but with more hours. I was scared about making the decision. Usually my company gives you a week to make a decision. I felt relieve when I prayed for God’s help and guidance.
Remember that our world will continue to turn fast to keep up with changes. Don’t be in a hurry to see if your decision is God’s.
September 19th, 2009 at 9:21 pm
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September 19th, 2009 at 10:21 pm
Today’s leaders seem to have shifted focus from what benefits all, to what benefits them. They’ve began to concentrate on “What’s in it for me,” but, to triumph they’ve forgotten that a leader must aim for what’s best for all. The trend in the last decade has been greed. Everywhere you turn executives are bailing out of sinking ships with millions, as Business Week states, its pay-for-failure. Leadership trends seem to be lacking any social judgment skills. Where have the values and integrity of this generation’s leaders gone? Has the lack of values caused our current economic recession? What can we do as individuals to change this trend? As Iacocca stated in his article where has all the Leaders Gone, we have to be informed citizens that take an active role in our country’s government. We are fortunate in that we live in a democracy, and those leading our country work for us. We have to make sure that our values and expectations are properly reflected in those individuals we choose to lead us so they can set expectations for our nation as a whole.
October 11th, 2009 at 5:01 pm
Although, I do believe that in the beginning of the rush of information there were decisions made without considering the consequences; today’s leaders for the most part have adapted to this rush of information and overcome its disadvantages. Just like captains, and colonels out in the battle field, fast decisions have to be made and consequences of these decisions are always in the forefront of their minds. More information to these leaders from multiple sources as well as the most important sources, the men and women in the field, help the officers in charge to make the appropriate decisions at the appropriate times. Those leaders however, that don’t adapt to this rush in information, still make decisions as leaders that for the most part don’t work and in the end fail. It is these leaders that usually are the type that do not deal with high pressure situations and that have a hard time working with most of the technology. It is current and future leaders that have to learn to not be these types of leaders. We have to learn to conquer newer technology and how to determine what information is correct and which information is invalid. Knowing these things before we get into high pressure situations helps the leader decipher the information instantaneously and then make the correct decisions.
October 11th, 2009 at 7:11 pm
As a leader in the academic world, the business world, and the coaching world I am sometimes overwhelmed by all of the opportunities that I have to communicate with my followers. It is important to understand that a majority of the people that I have influence on are from the ages of 18 to 25. This age group is very technologically savvy and they are open to having deep conversations via text message, facebook chat, and email. As a leader I sometime struggle with the best way to develop my dyadic relationships with them face to face and also be relevant in their world. This is a tension that I am wrestling through and leaders of the future will have to wrestle through as well. The social norms are changing amidst the fast pace changes in technology and it is a huge responsibility to wrestle with how we are setting these norms.
November 23rd, 2009 at 1:54 am
Making Quality/Ethical Decisions in Times of Change
John explains in his post on April 5, 2008 that with today’s busy and fast past decision making, a lot of decisions that are being made are not up to par with that of past leadership decisions. I have a tendency to disagree with that statement. Yes not all decisions that are made on the fly are always good but I do believe with today’s vast amounts information, leaders who are properly trained can make a good decision effectively and efficiently. For the most part, if a bad decision is being seen by a leader during a fast pace environment then it is usually the decision making after that incident has occurred that makes the original decision seem to be so poorly done. From my personal experiences dealing with medical and security emergencies, there are always vast amounts of knowledge and information that is being recorded at the time of the incident that sometimes cannot be seen by the leader. It isn’t until after the incident is over and done with that this information can be viewed by other experts that have several days to view and create the perfect decision. How can a leader with limited information make a better decision in the limited amount of time as the leader with more information? I feel that it is with statements like these that decision makers get their viewpoints skewed and blame a person who otherwise made the only logical decision at that given time. It is up to the leaders of today and the leaders of tomorrow to realize the different amounts of knowledge and information that is out there and judge every decision by its own merits.
Clint H. Harrison LED 501
March 7th, 2010 at 5:02 pm
There is ample evidence to support the theory that leaders are becoming lazy in their decision making, often because there are too many sources of data. These leaders have access to so much information, they rely upon the numbers to tell them what they should do, completely ignoring the most important tools that a leader has at their disposal; moral compass, and business instinct. In the past, good leaders would look at a decision, and the consequences of each action or inaction that they could take. The internal analysis of each of these options would be a significant portion of the decision making process. This is severely lacking in modern leadership. One of the best recent examples of this occurred with the Toyota corporation. The upper management made decisions to ignore stories that were coming in about various automobiles that were unexpectedly accelerating, with no way to stop. Even with evidence piling on, they took a denial approach, until they couldn’t ignore the data any longer. Unfortunately, they have rushed a “solution” without proper testing, and it looks like this is not solving the problem. Unfortunately, throughout the decision process, the leadership has not looked at the consequences of their action/inaction. Had they taken a more proactive approach, and fully investigated the various incidents, and looking at possible causes and solutions at an earlier date, they may have saved many lives, and possibly their reputation. Instead, they delayed and denied, to the point where even if they fully solve the issues at hand, they may have permanently lost a tremendous amount of their business in the future. They had to take the raised issues seriously, simply because there was a true possibility that their faulty product was causing people to lose their lives. They are in a hole that will take them a very long time to dig themselves out of.
March 8th, 2010 at 5:06 pm
I agree that we live in an incredibly fast paced world where expectations are much different than what they used to be. I think that some decisions are made quickly and are not good ones but, what prevents us from taking the time to think through a couple of different decisions and making what we believe is the best decision? We prevent it. We don’t take the time because we feel we don’t have it. I have found that if I need the time to make a decision and someone doesn’t want to give me the time, they are probably looking for me to give them an answer that they want rather than an answer that I’ve had time to think about.
Even when making a quick decision we know before we speak out loud whether the decision is ethical or not, it’s not something we need to think about.
Amos 1:1-2:16 says that “Leaders who fail morally do not lead anyone to a better place. The higher the leader goes, the deeper his character must develop. The larger the outward privilege, the larger the inward character must be. Character represents the inner life of a leader.”
Take the time you need to think things through so you make a good decision and know that what you are doing will make our Lord proud and you will still be able to hold up your head.
March 8th, 2010 at 8:08 pm
I am of the view that the new communication channels of cell phones, instant messaging, internet, etc have come to help more than harm. I believe during the times when communicating channels were hard copy and verbal discussions and they supposedly had time to think through and make decisions, some of their decision were wrong. I think a decision will go either way not because of the new technologies we have, it will depend on the one making the decision, how he/she processes information and how much experience he/she has in that particular area. In other words the speed with which decisions are made should not matter. I for one will not make a decision unless I am comfortable with it, no matter the pressure. It is ethical if we take responsibility for the decisions we make.
March 9th, 2010 at 7:24 pm
With the technology available today it has become increasingly faster and easier to accumulate the information and the knowledge needed to make decisions within an organization. It would seem like the ability to make quicker high quality decisions would be the result of this technology, but this is not necessarily the case. The crucial element in high quality decision making are the conclusions drawn from the information and knowledge obtained, not the process of accumulating knowledge. This being said, the decision making process only truly begins once all the information and knowledge is gathered. The efficiency of technology may allow the decision making process to begin sooner, but for high quality decisions to be made, careful consideration must be given and adequate time taken. This is not to say that all quick decisions are bad, many either must be made quickly, or are based on a single key indicator. In these situations prolonged contemplation becomes a problem in itself. In situations where there is high risk associated with a decision it is imperative for multiple options or solutions to be generated. Systems thinking must then be used to analyze the options/solutions to determine the effect it will have on the entire organization and to manage any risks that may arise from implementation. When this is rushed, or skipped entirely, lower quality decisions are made and unforeseen problems occur, some worse than the problems they were intended to correct in the first place.
April 20th, 2010 at 9:25 pm
There is a great deal of truth to this. There are times I would like to go back to my team prior to making a decision so that I can get their input into the matter. However, we are accustomed to getting our decisions made immediately. Most everyone can be accessed via email, cell phone, or text at a moment’s notice. Sometimes the leadership team forgets that my team is a 24 hour 7 day a week team and therefore half my team sleeps during the day and the other is very busy, working. Once a month I am able to get my entire team in the same room at the same time. In today’s world that just takes too much time. I can be contacted by phone any time of the day which means sometimes I am making decision at 2:00am and while driving to and from somewhere. I suppose because I am a processor and like to discuss things prior to making a decision today’s culture does not fit well with me. Don’t get me wrong I love having access to information at my fingertips and when I need a decision made quickly I love being able to email, call or text my supervisor to get an immediate response. Just another example of how we quickly get used to our conveniences today. The one thing I have utilized and love is the concept of PDSA (plan, do, study, act). This allows us to make decision and evaluate those decision study our options and act again. Sometimes we may have to adjust as we go several times. This has been a concept that has taken my staff some time to get used to but gets that buy in quickly. With the benefits and downfalls of today’s culture comes an opportunity to change and grow.
The one thing that will make us or break us is that moral compass we use while making such decisions. We will not succeed in anything we do without it.
April 21st, 2010 at 8:04 am
A leader in a time crunch may be tempted to make an ethical decision based on his/her own feelings, religious beliefs, law, or ideas of accepted social practice without fully taking into consideration the impact their decision will have in the future. One of the identifiable temptations for the leader as identified in this blog is the time savings. When change is needed, a leader recognizes that whatever decision is eventually agreed upon, will usually be some form of his/her original idea. However, a good leader acknowledges that different viewpoints are necessary when having to make quality/ethical decisions in times of change. A singular viewpoint decision can be very shortsighted and tends to serve only the best interest of the person who made it.
Here is an approach that I have found helpful when making these types of decisions.
1. Identify and Define the Issue – Gather all of the information needed to provide both yourself and those who will be consulted, to be able to properly review this issue.
2. Determine the Approach – There are five different established ethical approaches which may be of help in making these decisions. It is not necessarily an either/or, when evaluating which approach to take.
a. Utilitarian Approach – This evaluates which action will result in the most good or does the least harm for all.
b. Rights Approach – Begins with a belief that humans deserve to be treated as an end not just a means to another end. It implies that rights imply duties of which one of them is to respect others’ rights.
c. Fairness/Justice Approach – The idea that all equals should be treated equally.
d. Common Good Approach – This proposes that society is dependent upon its interlocking relationships as the basis of ethical reasoning, and that respect and compassion for others is a requirement for such reasoning.
e. Virtue Approach – The approach that says ethical actions ought to be consistent with certain ideal virtues that provide for the full development of our humanity.
3. Make the Decision – Use the decided upon approach(es) to evaluate the alternatives and weighing the consideration of those you have selected as a consulting resource, make the decision.
4. Test the Decision – Has the issue been properly identified and addressed? What is going to be the reaction of those affected by this decision? What is going to be the impact of this decision? What are some ways in which this decision could be misunderstood? Are there going to be any exceptions in the implementation of this decision?
5. Implement the Decision – Develop a communication and implementation strategy that will enable you to make this change or changes in the most effective manner. If the change is drastic, develop a strategy that will include a number of different steps designed to allow those affected to be able to absorb the desired change without too much corporate cultural shock (if possible).
6. Evaluate the Outcome – Determine if the decision resulted in the desired effect or if continued implementation should be revaluated due to either new circumstances or unforeseen prior circumstances.
While this approach does not make it any easier for a leader to make the difficult ethical decisions, it allows for a consistently better outcome than the individual decision making approach.
April 22nd, 2010 at 7:02 pm
We are the microwave generation. We want everything quick and instant. I would say the majority of quick decisions do not turn our as intended. How can anyone make a sound, ethical decision about a complex situation quickly? It can be done but the consequences of the choice could be catastrophic.
At the same time, many of us are not given the time to think through a complex situation well enough and we must choose. A little I’ve learned from my director is that not every choice will be the best one. When you make a choice and it is not the right one, the right thing to do is to be responsible for that choice. As a leader, it is your responsibility to be accountable for your decision. Many of today’s leaders want to side-step that responsibility and do not want to face the consequences. That is an area that must be changed. Our country was founded on the basic principles of self-responsibility. If we lose that, then we do not learn from history and regress to a place no one wants to be.
Beau Rollins LED 501
October 7th, 2010 at 1:54 pm
Ethical decisions are very important and being a good leader involves taking the time to make the right choices. In a money driven world decisions can be plagued with thoughts of being profitable. Too me, as a Christian, I don’t understand the thought process of selling out your own company to become filthy rich when you are already a multi millionaire. What is the amount of money that is enough to keep a person happy? The leader of Enron probably could not spend all the money they had in a life time. This man was worth over 400 million dollars. Hopefully in the future leaders will look at this example and make ethical decisions when thousands of people count on them. My decisions will never be entirely based on money.
MelissaS LED 501
October 10th, 2010 at 5:24 pm
I agree that as business leaders, we must be ethical in our decision making as in examples. Not only do we need to do this from an ethical standpoint, but we must uphold ethical standards as Christians. We may not always be able to exploit our religion in the workplace, but we can still behave as Christians. Chritians must behave as Christians and obey the word of God in and out of the workplace.
November 21st, 2010 at 6:04 pm
I agree that business leaders have to make quick decisions that may or may not be ethical, but, I feel that if a leader is an ethical leader, he/she will make the best decision, even in a crunch, based on their own ethics. If they have made a mistake they will own up to it and do whatever is necessary to fix their error.
As a Christian, we know what our responsibilities are, we know what is right and what is wrong, to make a bad decision, well, that happens. A bad decision doesn’t mean an unethical decision.
If a leader would be content to give our Lord the same response as he has given his management, then I see no issue, if the leader would cringe as to the decision he/she has made before our Lord, he/she better rethink the decision quickly
November 24th, 2010 at 6:02 pm
I agree many leaders have to make quick decisions and many of these quick decisions are complex decisions. Due to the fact that complex and quick decisions have to be made.
One of the main reasons the change in leadership style is occurring is because of complex challenges. In the past, leaders have not been able to embrace complexity and make wise decisions. Complex challenges in many different shapes and forms including: crises, natural disasters, terrorists, political, social, globalization, and technology. There is a rapid pace of change that is causing challenges each and every day for leaders. “The complex challenges that leaders face are multidimensional; they defy existing solutions, resources, and approaches; they erode fundamental assumptions and mental models; and they demand new learning and creativity.” (Frances Hesselbein, 2006 pg. 87)