Making business decisions that grow profits, reduce expenses, or increase customer satisfaction has been the goal of every successful business enterprise since CAIN agricultural products orchestrated a takeover of ABEL shepherding services. The impact of that business decision is still being felt today.
In the modern world, management usually takes a business claim or new idea most seriously when it is supported with verifiable facts. The viability of said claim is something that is generally proven to be true or false. Consider the case of an executive search firm that needs to choose between two senior executive prospects that have both made individual claims as to being the best choice for the position. In the “olden” days, management would have relied on their “gut” or “intuition” to decide whose claim was most “true,” while also considering some of the available facts. Today, with the explosion of information and instant communication, doing business this way is no longer reliably profitable. Creating a global business-decisioning program that delivers sustainable competitive advantage is today’s “race to space.” Unfortunately, there are many cultural, operational, and financial reasons why this race is more like a mine-filled marathon than a short sprint. Overcoming these barriers is the first step toward a successful deployment. Let’s take a closer look at this minefield:
You may not have a company culture that encourages critical thinking
Critical thinking is a key skill that enhances capabilities such as product innovation, business expansion, and change management. It refers to the careful, deliberate determination of whether an individual should accept, reject, or suspend judgment about a business claim and whether the full support of the organization should be thrown behind it.
Employees must have access to training that promotes skills such as listening and reading carefully, evaluating arguments, looking for and finding hidden assumptions, and tracing the consequences of implementing a business claim or idea. This is the critical foundational step that must be executed before an effective global business-decisioning program can be put in place.
Your complex business decisioning processes are not clearly defined or automated
Once you handle the critical thinking cultural challenges, your next move is making sure that your employees have a clear and effective method of collaborating while making complex group decisions. Almost every company has gone through some type of business process (six sigma) mapping exercise with the stated goal of documenting the most effective company-wide method of completing a particular business task. This is a very useful exercise that often defines the “who, what, why, where and when” of how a standard business process should be executed. This static approach works very well as long as “the business conditions on the ground” never change. Doing business in today’s environment requires flexible business models and the ability to change business partners on a dime. If you can seamlessly merge both your business process and your business decisioning models into one seamless process you will unlock the key to propagating a business culture of “trust but verify” throughout your entire organization. Issues related to business planning, budgeting and implementation represent the last remaining barrier to effective group decision-making.
Your business-decisioning program may be woefully underfunded
Everyone knows that undercapitalization is the biggest reason that small businesses tend to fail. They often have too much plan and too little money. Unfortunately, this is often true for many business organizations seeking to implement business-decisioning initiatives (especially during this recession). Instead of taking the first step toward developing a critical thinking decision-oriented business culture, many projects are approached as quick, isolated tasks that make a limited amount of information available to a small subset of individuals who do not work collaboratively.
It takes considerably more than investments in hardware, software, professional services, and technical classes to overcome all three barriers to complex decision-making. Organizations must also develop some type of critical thinking competency center to serve as a central driving force for workforce development. This is a long-term strategy that must have the constant and full attention of all stakeholders.
How are you navigating this minefield? What do you think needs to be done before more organizations take competitive advantage of collaborative group decision-making? What business planning, budgeting, and implementation barriers have you experienced with prospects or clients looking to move forward with their initiatives