Through What Lens?

Through What Lens?

Steve Polo

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

Recently, I’ve been taking our teenage daughter on college tours.

For those of you who have done it – you’ll probably agree that it’s an interesting process.  It’s been quite a while since I’ve been to college and it’s kind of a whole new ball game.  I just have to say this: the food at some of these colleges is spectacular and so are the fitness centers!  I guess they need the fitness centers to work off the good food!

So far we visited something like ten schools mostly in the east but we ventured to Canada and just this side of the Mississippi.  And so far most of the tours have ended with a phrase from my daughter that is a version of “Yeah it’s nice…. but it’s not for me.”

So when pressed to describe why these places aren’t for her – she can’t quite say.  It appears to me, (but as a father I’m likely to be wrong!) that there are no explicit criteria she is using to pick the right one.  Nevertheless, there is seemingly no lens to ‘look through’ to see the best one to choose.

I realized that this is not unusual – many of us don’t have this ‘lens’.  Recently we interviewed a potential candidate and at the end of the interview I asked ‘If you get multiple offers, how would you decide?  The candidate paused and said – “That’s a really good question.  I’m not sure…..I’d been so focused on getting a job that I didn’t consider how I’d pick!”

This got me to thinking about decision-making in general.  Many of us default to things like: ‘I’ll trust my gut, I’ll use whatever information I have, I ask my friends/parents/coworkers what they think, I’ll react to circumstances,’ etc. sometimes this works out, but not always.

Individuals aren’t the only ones without decision criteria – businesses are no better. You would imagine that in business, strategic issues would be the main decision criteria, but what we’ve found is that the typical business defaults to: ‘How much does it cost’ (not very strategic).  Or worse: ‘I like it or I don’t like it’ (REALLY not strategic!).

So, do you know the lens you would use to decide any of the following situations?

  • Is this the right person to hire?
  • Should I go to work for this company?
  • Is this the right customer?
  • Should I invest in this?
  • Is the new strategy right for us?
  • Should we start this business?

Do you have an explicit list of criteria when you make decisions? If not, take a few minutes and think about it.  Write down your ideas.  The lens can be made up of any group of ideas.  The only requirement is that they are important to you and your success – relationships, honesty, competency, enthusiasm, character, experience, communication, timing, geography – these all can make up your criteria list.  Once you make the list, take a shot at prioritizing!

So the next time you’re faced with making decisions, you’ll have the lens to see a better answer!

Trying to see more clearly,

Steve Polo

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