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4 STEPS PREVENT PONDERING, FOSTER EFFECTIVE DECISIONS

"When a corporate employee rises to the vice presidency of his company, he has achieved the level of the `prestigious ponderer' who may preside but need not decide, who may delegate but need not activate, and who may review but need not do.

"When a public servant rises to division chief or bureau director, he has achieved the level of the `prodigious ponderer' who may scrutinize but need not finalize, who may systematize but need not organize, and who may articulate but need not state."When a teacher rises to the level of department head, principal or dean, he has achieved the level of the `pontifical ponderer' who may administrate but need not illuminate, who may preach but need not teach, and who may delegate but need not educate." ("When in Doubt, Mumble," by James H. Boren)

Pondering is the domain of the poor manager or entrepreneur. It is indecision that fosters ineffective leadership and lost profits.

The avoidance of pondering and the implementation of effective decisionmaking is based upon four basic principles:

Planning: Good business decisions are achieved through a well-developed business plan that is based upon factual research. Necessary resources can be anticipated and analyzed to determine their maximum benefit to the business endeavor. Timing of the acquisition and utilization of such resources is critical to any business success. Several "what if" scenarios can be developed to anticipate the many variables that can affect the business growth and development. Such planning eliminates the most common pondering symptom of "what do I do now."

Organization: Well-developed business plans become effective when based upon clearly defined organizational structure and procedures. A business organization chart should be developed to identify simple lines of authority and responsibility between the various levels of management and personnel. Lines of authority will maximize efficient communication between all levels of the organizational structure. Also, good policy and procedure guidelines for each level of responsibility should be developed and utilized to clarify correct action and avoid the costly effects of pondering.

Control: Prompt and accurate information feedback systems should be in place to monitor progress of the business plan. Data should be readily available to all levels of responsibility for monitoring of tasks assigned. Without effective information, control systems pondering leadership must guess at the problems they face and speculate on the solutions to be applied.

Direction: The business plan is a dynamic document that should be analyzed and adjusted as directional efficiencies and opportunities are identified by the information feedback system. The saying that there is no such thing as a perfect business plan is true due to the fact that no business plan can address all conditions of a changing economy. Therefore, good business plans are not written in stone, but are living documents to be amended as the business climate changes.

The art of good decisionmaking is simply the art of good management. To increase your bottom line, you must increase the efficiency of your decisionmaking process.

R. Kent Moon is a senior vice president of Zions First National Bank and the manager of the bank's Small Business and Entrepreneurial Department.