Sleeping on your decisions

Sleeping on your decisions

An interesting blog was written by Maarten Bos and Amy Cuddy in the HBR Blog based on the story that Barack Obama decided to have a nights sleep before making the decision to authorise the raid that killed Bin laden.businesswoman sleeping Their research shows that when considering a problem, it is often useful to have the mind “distracted” for a while and the subconscious then undertakes an active process that accurately weights the pros and cons of the decision to be taken.

This aligns with other thinking (including that of Genesis) on the topic. We believe in highly Labyrinthcomplex situations, although the left brain may be useful in structuring a logical process and perhaps “running the numbers”, it is the right brain that is better at grasping the holistic picture and dealing with the complexity. A good process is to immerse yourself (or your team) in the details and context of the decision (eg in the Genesis decision room mentioned in “The Second Habit”) – and then take a break! Allow your right brain to take over and the only way to do this is to get your left brain to “shut-up”. So be it having a sleep, going for a run or, as Dan Pink describes in his book “A whole new mind”, go for a walk in a labyrinth and let your left brain worry about where it is walking and free your right brain to be creative and develop solutions.

Read the article at:

“A counter-intuitive approach to making complex decisions”

Talk to us at Genesis Management Consulting to see how we can help your team “improve lives through better decisions!”

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Before you make that strategic decision …

Harvard Business Review article: reducing behavioural problems
Kahneman, Lovello and Sibony

HBR, in conjunction with McKinsey, have published an interesting article about reducing the impact of behavioural issues in decision making.

The underlying premise is that it is very difficult for individuals to recognise their own subconscious bias – simply put: we cannot see our own blind-spots. But we are far better at identifying those of others or of groups.

They put forward a check-list of questions that should be asked when a group is putting forward a decision recommendation. We will describe that list below. But first some commentary:

What is good about the article?

  • Anything that can help us reduce the negative impact of behaviour that we are unaware of is good. As the article says: advice up to now has been more of a case of “forewarned is forearmed” which has shown to do little to have an impact on our behaviours.
  • Using an external person to question a group is also a great idea (albeit not entirely original – Genesis have been suggesting this in one form or other for years) as it is definitely easier to see someone else’s blind spots than our own.
  • Having a check-list is a good idea and forces one to go through the appropriate disciplines of asking and challenging.
What could be improved?
  • We believe that the concept of challenging behaviours is better built into the entire decision-making process – or at least at a number of check-points along the way. Waiting until the recommendation phase is fraught with obvious problems.
  • The check-list itself should be tailored to best suit the requirements of the situation and the team involved. The generic list put forward is fine, but the emphases may well be in the wrong areas.
  • Agreeing on who should play the role of  “decision-auditor” is critical. A combination of appropriate experience (in the role), expertise in the subject matter (of behaviours and the decision context), independence and authority are all important. Just as we believe the person who ultimately takes the decision should not be the person to drive the decision process (better suited to a “decision coach”), we believe that the decision leader should also not be playing this behaviour-challenge role. After all, they have their own set of behaviours, perspectives and bias to consider.
For those of you who do not want (or do not have time) to read the article itself, here is the 12 point check-list put forward (the article has more detail behind the items as well as the rationale):
  1. Is there any reason to suspect motivated errors, or errors driven by the self-interest of the recommending team?
  2.  Have the people making the recommendation fallen in love with it?
  3. Were there dissenting opinions within the recommending team?
  4. Could the diagnosis of the situation be overly influenced by salient analogies?
  5. Have credible alternatives been considered?
  6. If you had to make this decision again in a year, what information would you want, and can you get more of it now?
  7. Do you know where the numbers came from?
  8. Can you see a halo effect?
  9. Are the people making the recommendation overly attached to past decisions?
  10. Is the base case overly optimistic?
  11. Is the worst case bad enough?
  12. Is the recommending team overly cautious?
We do not wish to appear overly critical. The article is important and timely. Furthermore, we have great respect for the authors: Daniel Kahneman particularly is a world-leader in this area. Our comments are merely to assist our clients in taking this good idea into real practice. 
The original document can be found at Harvard Business Review at:  Look before you leap
And we believe there is free access up until 4th July 2010.
If you would like to discuss how we at Genesis can help to optimise the decision making process in your organisation, please contact Simon Gifford – or have a look around our web-site at
(www.genesis-esp.com).
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Change or die: creating new habits

Change or die: creating new habits

A quick post in the middle of our publication of “The 7 habits” series (see elsewhere in this blog) brings to your attention a really good article (albeit slightly rambling) on change and making it happen – that is: changing habits. It begins by discussing how people with life-threatening illnesses (such as heart disease) seldom really change their lifestyle even when they know it could kill them.

Why? Because changing people’s behaviours means talking to their feelings in a way that resonates with their thinking, fits inside their “frame of reference” and evokes positive experiences. So, for instance, do not say “if you do not stop doing this you are going to die”; rather say “if you do this you will lead a more joyful life”!

The lessons are as valid for organisations as they are for individuals – and that is why the most successful change efforts appeal to positive emotions – Steve Jobs and Louis Gerstner demonstrating two examples.  As importantly, these efforts must result in changed habits. We know this is not easy, but latest neuroscience thinking says that we can increase the “plasticity” of our brains which is what allows for changed behaviours. Put simply: you can teach an old dog new tricks. The article goes further to explain how we can increase our brains plasticity by learning something new that requires exercising the brain, such as learning to speak a foreign language or learning to play a musical instrument.

Read the article at : Change or die by Alan Deutschman

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Habit 1 of highly effective decision makers: get the basics right

Habit 1: get the basics right
The first habit in the series: The 7 habits of highly effective decision makers

Following the introductory slide show, we are pleased to present the next in the series of the 7 habits of highly effective decision makers – habit 1: get the basics right.

The document briefly looks at research showing where organisations sometimes get the basics wrong in decision making. It then goes on to discuss what highly effective decision makers do to steer clear of these pitfalls, by asking (and answering) 6 key questions. Finally the slide show considers ways in which the reader may immediately apply some of these ideas to their own organisation.

We hope you both enjoy, and find value, in the presentation. To download a free copy of the slideshow, click on the link below which will take you to the appropriate web-page.

Habit 1 Get the basics right (the 7 habits of highly effective decision makers)

Or if you prefer: view on slide-share at: The First Habit

We are available to make this presentation to members of your organisation where we will elaborate on the slide show with further details and examples. We would also be delighted to help you implement some of the action ideas suggested at the end of the slide show. Contact Simon Gifford at sgifford@genesis-esp.com to make arrangements .

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Decision Makers

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Decision Makers
(Abajo: version español de los 7 hàbitos) 

Why do strategic decisions go wrong?
What are the consequences?
What distinguishes the great decision makers from the rest of the pack?

Get the answer to these questions and more from this original and entertaining presentation that discusses the 7 habits of highly effective decision makers. The presentation is being followed up by a series of articles that will give greater detail, more examples and actionable techniques to help you and your organisation “improve lives through better decisions.” Subscribe to this blog (see bottom of page) to ensure you do not miss any of them.

The 7 habits of highly effective decision makers

Los 7 habitos de los tomadores de decisiones altamente efectivos

Note: if you would rather not download the presentation, you can view it at:
Slideshare,  (english and español) or
YouTube    (accompanied by “Changes” by David Bowie)

We are available to make this presentation to members of your organisation where we will elaborate on the presentation with further details and examples. Contact Simon Gifford at sgifford@genesis-esp.com to make arrangements .

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Talks, lectures and training

Talks, lectures and training

The Genesis Management Consulting page on talks, lectures and training has been updated.

In addition to consulting, we also assist our clients in improving their decision making and problem solving capacity through a number of education-based mechanisms from intense in-house training through to simply giving a talk at their annual conference. We pride ourselves in presenting “differently” using highly visual techniques, optimal audience interaction and in an entertaining and engaging manner.

For a list of the types of training, workshop or presentation we are able to offer, click on the following link:
Talks, lectures and training

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Value, values and ethical decisions

Value, values and ethical decision-making.

Below is attached a short commentary on an interesting article recently published by strategy+business that discusses whether or not we really do take ethics, social responsibility or the environment into account when making our purchases.

The commentary also asks some key controversial questions about the efficacy of socially responsible programmes – which we hope may stimulate some debate around issues such as women in business, affirmative action and launching environmentally-friendly products.

We continue to use innovatve techniques to spread our work wider than immediate clients. So….. you may click on the link below and download the article by “paying with a tweet” which creates a little buzz around the article by sending out a tweet (if you have a twitter account) or tells your friends about via your Facebook page. It is a small, discrete notice and takes 2 easy, risk-free steps to get there.

Pay with a tweet: download the “Value versus value article commentary”

If you are uncomfortable with the technology, simply go to the next link below that allows you to download the article without  any announcement.
Value vs values article commentary

Finally, here is a link to the original article itself.
values vs value original article

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The impact of trust on strategic decision making

The impact of trust when making strategic decisions.

I recently came across, and read, a book entitled “The speed of trust” by Stephen Covey (junior) and got to thinking how trust can impact on all aspects of our lives – both professionally and personally.

Because it is the main area of focus of Genesis, I also considered how the presence (or absence) of trust can greatly facilitate (or seriously hamper) the whole process of taking strategic decisions.

Attached is a link to a short article that gives a little more detail of the book and its underlying concepts – and then goes on to show how, by consciously applying the principals, we may improve our decision-making processes. The example used is one of a corporate acquisition.

We are experimenting with wider distribution of our work. If you would like to “pay” for the article by posting a link on your twitter or facebook page, just click on the link below and follow the two steps to receive a copy – thanks for helping.
If you are afraid of new technology and would rather not “pay”, we are still giving the article away for nothing scroll down below the “pay with a tweet” link and download in the normal way.

Pay with a tweet

Free article download (no tweet payment!)
The impact of trust on strategic decisions

And if you want to buy the book
Link to book at Amazon

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The way we (used to) do things around here

The way we (used to) do things around here.
Reframing behaviour to make change happen

I recently came across this fascinating Booz & Co. article that discusses the use of neuroscience in making changes happen – at organisational and personal levels. We all have experienced times when we have tried to make personal changes and failed (New Years Resolutions as one example) or tried to make organisational changes and for some reason the changes do not happen or at least do not stick.

This article goes some way to explain why this happens, or does not happen. Although the use of neuroscience in assisting with organisational change is still relatively in its infancy, there are some interesting ideas put forward that can help us think about making organisational change stick.

I am certain that in addition to the above, this also has significant relevance in considering how we manage the behavioural pitfalls that await us when taking decisions. Much work has been done in identifying these challenges (e.g. anchoring and seeking confirmatory evidence), but far less done in what we do about these things. The “meta-thinking” (thinking about what we are thinking about) discussed in the article is one way of doing this.

Below is a link to a summary of the article and a second link to the article itself.

We at Genesis would be happy to have a discussion with you as to how these principals and ideas may be put into practice in your organisation (or your personal life) when taking strategic decisions – or in the implementation of such.

Reframing behaviour – Summary of “the way we (used to) do things” article

Article: The way we (used to) do things around here

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Challenges faced when taking strategic decisions: latest research

“Challenges faced when taking strategic decisions”.
Executive summary of global survey

“A critical factor in the success – and often survival – of any organisation lies in its ability to make effective strategic decisions. This skill is of increasing significance in today’s world, where the nature of these decisions is becoming more complex – as currently seen in the turmoil being experienced by the global economy.”

Below is a link to the Executive Summary of the results of our global survey into this topic. We hope you find the results both interesting and useful.

A copy of the full report will also be available on request.

Genesis Decision Survey Executive Summary December 2010

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The strategic risk most often missed by Boards and Executives

The strategic risk most often overlooked by Boards and Executives
I recently came across an article written by Deloitte Consulting entitled: ” Confronting assumptions to find risk and opportunity”. The slightly ponderous heading and somewhat academic style of writing however, did not manage to hide a number of excellent thoughts and ideas.

The attached document summarises those ideas and builds upon them to suggest a tool to reduce the likelihood of succumbing to that risk.

Strategic risk most often overlooked by Boards and Executives

 

Original article “confronting assumptions to find risk and opportunity”.

 

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Stress test your strategy

What critical decisions should you be taking to keep your strategy relevant in the economic crisis?

Executive summary of an article by Robert Simons, published in November 2010 edition of the Harvard Business Review.

Economic turbulence can quickly expose the weaknesses in a business strategy. To refine and hone it to adapt to the new circumstances requires us to make some tough strategic decisions. Robert Simons in his book “seven strategy questions: a simple approach to better execution” puts forward seven questions that we should be asking when undertaking a stress-test of our strategy.

Stress test your strategy

La prueba de esfuerzo de la estrategia

 

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Strategic decision: how to select and hire management consultants.

“Dangerous liaisons”.
Selecting and hiring management consultants.

A major decision that organisations occasionally face is whether or not to hire management consultants. And if so, how to go about it to maximise value from the process.

Using Genesis Management Consulting’s strategic decision-making process and input from experts on the subject (from both sides of the table), we are pleased to offer an article describing the process, how to go about it and some of the pitfalls and consultant “tricks” that you may encounter.

How to optimise value when selecting and hiring consultants

In addition, we are publishing an interactive pdf which contains all the information in the article plus some extra data such as consulting pricing models and questions to ask consultants in a short-list interview. This is a useful tool as you have all this information structured in a highly accessible manner on one page. All you need is Adobe 9 (free from Adobe) to read and navigate the document.
We are distributing it for a nominal price of £3-50. If you would like to buy this click on the button below, pay via PayPal or credit card and have the article within 12 hours.
Dangerous Liaisons Interactive pdf

If for some reason the link does not work, drop me a line at sgifford@genesis-esp.com and I will arrange for you to receive the article.

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Taking strategic decisions in the face of ‘unknown unknowns’.

Below is the link to an article we have written with the purpose of assisting individuals and organisations to take better strategic decisions and create more robust strategies in the face of great uncertainty.

It has been published with the intention of offering some practical tools to help overcome the challenges posed by these uncertainties.

If you would like a more in-depth discussion, please contact me, Simon Gifford, at Genesis Management Consulting.

Genesis – Strategic decisions in the face of uncertainty

Article summary – mind-map:
Click for full image

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The second habit: actively manage knowledge

The second habit – from the series: the 7 habits of effective decision makers

We have just published the next slide show in the series: the 7 habits of highly effective decision makers. This is the second habit: actively manage knowledge.

We have changed the structure of our distribution somewhat and to read more about the topic and view, or download, you will need to go to the Genesis web page. The following link will take you there.
The second habit

We look forward to your feedback and discussions.

 

 

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Gary Klein video: “Streetlights and shadows”

Gary Klein video

The brilliant academic on decision making, Gary Klein, has launched a new book called Streetlights and shadows. Here is a video clip where he discusses some of the content and de-bunks certain myths about decision making and how it actually happens in real life.

He discusses critical decisions under time pressures (using fire-fighters as an example); why you can trust your intuition (using medical examples) and the myth of requiring clear objectives before launching into a decision making process.

The video is an hour long, but is exceptionally easy to watch and full of challenging concepts.

Gary Klein video

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Intuition – more than trusting your gut

Intuition – more than trusting your gut.

Here is a link to a useful article written by Modesto Maidique (visiting professor at Harvard Business School) who talks about intuition and knowledge.

The core theme of the article is that intuition may be more than just gut. His examples show great “intutive decisions” often are accompanied by great knowledge of the subject matter as well. Additional examples show spectacular failure when this has been missing.

There is, however, a third ingredient and that is deep introspection as highlighted in the quote below.

 If you are going to understand the biases, emotions, and offsets of your decision-making compass which may effectually trump your domain knowledge and result in poor judgments, you must learn to “observe all men, but yourself most.”

Intuition is not just trusting gut by Modesto Maidique

If you would like to discuss how you could improve the decision making capacity and capability of your own organisation, please contact Simon Gifford at sgifford@genesis-esp.com.

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Euro zone – will it survive the crisis?

Euro zone – will it survive the crisis?

When taking strategic decisions, it is critical to understand (as best as possible), the future in which your decision will be enacted. Anyone operating from, or interacting with, Europe, must therefore be aware of the potential future scenarios within the region. Will the euro survive? Will some member states leave (willingly or forced) the euro zone? Are more governments going to fall through their handling of the crisis?

The Economist has just published a fantastic article around this topic painting some future possible scenarios and providing a “debt crisis monitoring” tool. The article is 46 pages long, so we have put together a short summary for those who do not currently have the time to read The Economist version in-depth – and even included a few views of our own. But we would recommend that, after our summary, you do still try and go through the full version as it really is well-written and thought-out.

Below you can click through to download the summary and/or the Economist version. As always, if you would like to discuss some of the implications and potential opportunities for your organisation, contact Simon Gifford (contact details in the document).

We are experimenting with wider distribution of our work. If you would like to “pay” for the article by posting a link on your twitter or facebook page, just click on the link below and follow the two steps to receive a copy – thanks for helping.
If you would rather not “pay”, we are still giving the article away for nothing scroll down below the “pay with a tweet” link and download in the normal way.

Pay with a tweet

Genesis summary: will the euro zone survive the crisis?

Economist: will the euro zone survive the crisis?

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