Merge's Blog

Don’t lose sight of your important role in making decisions

Making decisions is what leaders do.  Whether it’s hiring staff, evaluating vendor proposals, or resolving process bottlenecks, making decisions is our bread and butter.  It’s why we get paid the big bucks! J  Given that making decisions is such a critical part of our roles, the tendency can be to fall into a routine, and even lose sight of how important this responsibility can be.  And invariably, our decisions stack upon one another – the first decision leads to a second, which leads to a third, and so on.  So what would happen if you made a poor decision somewhere along that path?  Logic says that it could potentially take you down a road that could lead to a sub-optimal or even damaging outcome.

MongooseThe world of natural science has numerous examples of how one seemingly harmless decision has led to devastating unintended consequences.  Consider the introduction of the mongoose to the Hawai’ian islands.  In the 1880s, sugar cane farmers in the islands were seeking ways to control rat populations that were destroying their crops, and in 1883, with the best of intentions, they imported hundreds of mongoose and let them loose in their fields.  It proved to be a decision that was enormously uninformed.  Turns out, rats are nocturnal and mongoose diurnal, which means that the two species rarely came into contact with each another.  When the rats were out and about, the mongoose were usually tucked away in their dens, fast asleep!  Instead, local birds and turtle eggs available during the day became the mongooses’ meals of choice, and the native bird and turtle populations in the islands began to plummet.  Today, the mongoose is one of the most detested invader species in the islands of Hawai’i.

All this to say that it’s important that we don’t neglect nor underestimate the importance of our roles as decision-makers.  Every decision we make is important, if for no other reason than it can have unexpected and unintended consequences.  How do we avoid this?  I think one way is to seek out alternate perspectives when gathering information to make decisions.  I blogged about this in Invite your critics to be part of your project teamBut … what are your thoughts?  How do we avoid falling into this trap?  Please add your comment below.

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