Confidence and Time

When was the last time you were 100% sure about a business or sales decision? We all like to say we are when we make a decision. Occasionally we might even be that sure. Most of the time I don’t think we are that sure. We usually have an acceptable amount of information or input that enables us to feel confident enough to make our decision and move forward. If we didn’t feel confident, we would ask for more information and decisions wouldn’t get made and things wouldn’t get done.

Have you heard the phrase “paralysis by analysis”?

Confidence and how it affects decisions can be looked at on many levels and seems to vary significantly with both the economic climate and the business culture. In harder economic times, such as those we have been experiencing for the last while, it seems we need more information to make us feel confident enough to make decisions. The return for making the right decision seems to be outweighed by the risk of making the wrong decision. We also seem to be in many instances encouraging a “matrix” business culture where “consensus” is almost a requirement for any decision to be made.

Pareto would tell us that we will get 80% of the information in 20% of the time or inputs. It would follow that on average with this input you would make the right decision at least 80% of the time based on this 20% input. You would be right at least 4 out of 5 times. Just think how well you would do if you had this kind of accuracy with respect to your decisions in the stock market.

It seems we are now in economic times where the risk of being wrong once outweighs the benefits of being right 4 times. So now where do we go? Is it acceptable to only be wrong once out of every 10 times? Once out of every 20 times?

We need to remember that as we require this greater and greater accuracy on our decisions, we also require greater and greater amounts of information on which to base the decision and more importantly greater and greater amounts of time with which to make the decision. The result is we end up moving slower and slower. It ends up taking us longer to react. It takes us longer to get moving. It takes us longer to recover. When then layer in a matrix / consensus business structure and environment where the process has to be repeated for each individual associated with the consensus, it is almost a wonder that progress can be made at all.

Of the major resources available to a business, Money, People and Time, the only one that can not be replaced or replenished it Time. Physics tells us that Time only moves in one direction, and unless you are travelling at relativistic speeds (close to the speed of light) and doesn’t slow down. It would seem that if we focused more intently on Time as it affects our businesses that we would probably get a better return on our decisions, and start moving faster.

Moving our businesses forward will require the confidence to make right decisions as well as the acceptance of wrong decisions. We need to understand that no decision will engage reality and remain intact. They will all need to be modified. The “correct” decisions will only need to be modified slightly (if at all). The “incorrect” decisions will need to be modified to a greater extent.

The point here is that it will probably take less Time to modify the one potentially wrong decision out of five (the 80 / 20 rule) than it would take to gather all the information and gain the consensus required to get a higher level of surety across all five decisions.

I think that in these economic times with businesses focusing on the risk, and hence moving slower and slower, the business that has the confidence to focus on Time will gain the advantage by starting to move faster than the competition, and get the return.

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