Nonsense At Work

Posts tagged decision-making

#936: Not taking a decision is always a lack of courage

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DecisionsHave you ever wondered why decisions take so long in your organization? I know, I know, the obvious answer is a lack of information. Actually, that is the common excuse.

Here are the two real reasons. The first one is a lack of courage. Consider the difference between making and taking a decision. Making a decision is the whole process of reaching a point where you are ready to take the decision. When you take something, it’s yours. So, once you take a decision, you own it. Whereas if you are making a decision, well, you could stretch it out indefinitely.

The other reason has to do with the hierarchy of power and authority. The steeper the pyramid, the more people get involved in a decision, which is simply another way of spreading the risk and the blame.

Oh, you’re right. That’s also just a lack of courage.


Every week, and often every day, the Chief Nonsense Officer expresses his opinion on a regional public radio (NPR) station somewhere. The above podcast is the radio version.
© 2016 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

#912: Flowing with change makes you the odd lot for sale

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odd-lot-unchangedLet’s change how we look at change to see if we can change our attitude to change. Change is always about decision-making. You decide to accept the change or to fight it. Alternatively, you decide to make a change happen or you unmake a change already happening.

We tend to use three decision modes. You can go with the flow, go with your gut or go with your intellect.

You can resist change at work because your rational mind tells you to, or because your experience tells you to. These are acceptable reasons for fighting change, because you will at least develop an understanding of the change.

But it is risky to resist because you don’t want to go with the flow. Now you will not bother to understand the change and thus you will not understand the outcome. You will be the unchanged odd one. And odd lots are always for sale.


Every week, and often every day, the Chief Nonsense Officer expresses his opinion on a regional public radio (NPR) station somewhere. The above podcast is the radio version.
© 2016 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

#888: Making daily decisions without blame drives me nuts

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angryI am a registered voter. What drives me nuts about politicians is their inability to make decisions. If not that, then it’s their ability to make poor decisions.

I am a capitalist consumer. What drives me nuts about business leaders is their inability to make good decisions. Because when they do make a good decision, it too often means good for them and not for me.

I am an employee working for pay. What drives me nuts about my employers is their inability to make workable decisions. Because their workable decisions invariably mean more work for me.

I am a functioning adult. What drives me nuts about being an adult is the number of daily decisions I must make. And how difficult it is to make the right one.

I wish someone would make decisions for me, someone who won’t go nuts when I blame them for poor decisions.


Every week, and often every day, the Chief Nonsense Officer expresses his opinion on a regional public radio (NPR) station somewhere. The above podcast is the radio version.

© 2016 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

#874: When slipping on uncertainty, follow your heart

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follow-heartI am grateful to Sigmund Freud. He has helped me out of many a predicament by giving me a socially acceptable excuse. “It’s my mother’s fault. She didn’t potty train me.”

Of course, he has also gotten me into trouble by creating the Freudian Slip. I know he didn’t create it, but he should have kept quiet about it. At least he made up for that slip up by giving us the mother of all excuses. So Mr. Freud wins one and loses one.

However, he came up with a real winner when he suggested a method for dealing with uncertainty and decision-making. Here’s what he proposed.

All small decisions, if you know the facts, should be dealt with consciously. But in large matters, where facts are missing and things uncertain, you must follow your heart.

But then, it’s in following my heart that I make Freudian slips.


Every week, and often every day, the Chief Nonsense Officer expresses his opinion on a regional public radio (NPR) station somewhere. The above podcast is the radio version.
© 2016 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

#865: How to decide between success and failure


DunceWe progressed from the abacus to the slide rule to the calculator to the computer, as beans became numbers became data became bigger data. And yet, decision-making has not changed much. Even with smart tools, executives must still weigh two key elements, namely personal values and performance numbers.

When the numbers predict success in harmony with our values, then the decision is easy to make. And when then numbers point to failure and our values are compromised, then the decision is also easy.

But when the numbers hint at success if we compromise our values, or if failure will follow if our values prevail, then what? How do we decide?

Deciding will be easy if you truly know what matters most to you – success or integrity at all cost.

Failure hurts less if you don’t compromise your values. But success at the expense of values always leaves a bitter memory.


Every week, and often every day, the Chief Nonsense Officer expresses his opinion on a regional public radio (NPR) station somewhere. The above podcast is the radio version.
© 2016 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

#864: How will you live now that you have the power to decide?


DecisionsHow would you live if you had the power to decide?

My wife and I encouraged our kids to leave home. We even offered to help them pack. You might think we were a little tough on them as they were both under 10 at the time. (Their desire to leave related to homework and housework. How odd.)

They stayed home because they understood the consequences of leaving. Instead, they decided to participate. Today, older and wiser, they have no problem with making decisions.

Whether we like it or not, we always have total power to make decisions in any situation. Deciding to not decide is a decision; deciding on how to react is a decision.

However, to own this power, we must be willing to accept the consequences of using it. If we won’t accept it, then we must still own what happens to us.

So, I ask you again, how will you live now that you have the power to decide?


Every week, and often every day, the Chief Nonsense Officer expresses his opinion on a regional public radio (NPR) station somewhere. The above podcast is the radio version.
© 2016 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

#857: He who hesitates is luckier than the early bird, and vice versa

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early-birdAs a manager, how do you know when the time is right to make a decision? I’m not talking about obvious decisions, but tricky ones. Sometimes when you procrastinate, it will cost you; other times you will benefit from the delay. So how do you know which and when?

This morning I watched as a car raced through a red traffic light. Luckily, the drivers who had green hesitated long enough not to become road kill.

Once again I reminded myself that it pays to leave home a minute later than planned. That way I miss the crazy lady decorating her face or dashing cowboy running late. But I do worry that my minute of delay might create enough time for the second fast fool to get me.

The point is, whether at work or on the road, he who hesitates might be luckier than the early bird. And vice versa. Who knows?


Every week, and often every day, the Chief Nonsense Officer expresses his opinion on a regional public radio (NPR) station somewhere. The above podcast is the radio version.
© 2016 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

#725: Flow with your gut

gut-decisionDon’t let all this neuro-brain research fool you. We use only three types of decision-making strategies and we use them at different phases of life.

When in doubt, you can go with the flow, go with your gut or go with your intellect. In other words, you can do what is easiest, what feels right or what makes sense.

Kids tend to go with the flow because its carefree, mature adults tend to go with the gut because of experience, and young adults try to appear rational because they crave credibility.

I have reached the phase of life where I am experienced enough to go with my gut. But I’ve run into an unexpected problem. The more I use my gut, the bigger it gets and the more I want to go with the flow. Why? Because I want to be a kid again? No, because it is less strenuous.

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You can listen here to the radio version of Flow with your gut (10 most recent radio files)

© 2013 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

#715: Flip you gut decision

Coin-flipI recently explained how limited your choices are to start a game of chess – one of two pieces.

This is a good thing, else you would agonize for an age before making your move. According to psychologist William Edmond Hick, the amount of time it takes to make a decision is a function of the number of options available. The more options, the more indecision. And what does indecision lead to? Procrastination!

If you have too many options, take them two at a time. Because then you can use that amazing decision support tool, the coin flip.

Take any two options. Flip a coin. Discard the loser. Add a new option, flip and discard. Repeat until you have a winner.

Here’s the real secret to this method. If the coin flip lands you with an option that hits you in the gut, then you know that the other option is the right one for you.

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You can listen here to the radio version of Flip you gut decision (10 most recent radio files)

© 2013 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

#655: Make big decisions easy

Failed at touch decisionsAs I have explained once before, few of us enjoy making tough decisions. And yet make them we must. So it helps to understand a few things about tough decisions.

First, only you know what is tough for you to decide. Second, tough decisions change over time and with experience gained. Third, well, listen to this true story:

During an opinion survey of Irish households, a woman was asked about family decisions – who decides where they should live, where the kids go to school, where the family goes on vacation, and so on. To every question she answered, “I do.”

“And your husband?” asked the confused pollster. “Oh,” said the wife, “he decides whether Israel should get out of the West Bank, whether taxes should be cut, what Brussels should do about the Euro, and so on.”

Yes, indeed, it’s so much easier to make big decisions that have nothing to do with you.

You can also listen here to the radio version of Make big decisions easy (10 most recent radio files)

© 2012 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

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