Nonsense At Work

Posts tagged decisions

#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

#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

#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

#811: When to put your vote to work

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vote-at-work2Some of you who voted last week might still be disappointed because your candidate did not win. What should you do about it?

Those of you who are part of a successful team already know what to do. You will commit to make a success of the outcome, however you voted.

I once worked with a very successful team of executives. They had one critical rule. Members could disagree and argue as much as they wanted to inside the meeting, but not outside the meeting.

In other words, once a decision was made, every executive acted as if he or she had always believed that this was the right decision.

The result? Most of their decisions were executed well and had successful outcomes.

I have also worked with executives who carried on wasting energy trying to convince others that the decision already taken would fail.

Strangely, many of them weren’t around to see it succeed.


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

#733: Discounted decision simplifier

mass-choiceDo you think people go crazy on Black Friday because of the low prices? Well, think again. People stampede because Mr Retailer has made it easy for them to decide what to buy.

How did Henry Ford make the Model T the biggest seller of its time? No, not with a pricing strategy. Sure, massive discounts helped, but the real reason for it being a hit was the color option. It was offered in any color that was black.

Why are people marrying later in life? Because of the population explosion. With all those partners to choose from, how can I commit? It was so much easier to pick a mate when the village was a village.

No, I am not making this up. Research shows that people buy more when they have fewer choices. Cheaper is really just a decision simplifier when too many choices results in no choosing.

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You can listen here to the radio version of Discounted decision simplifier (10 most recent radio files)

© 2013 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

#688: Too important to fire up

stay sleepyHere’s a funny thing about executive meetings. Trivial decisions often take longer to resolve than critical issues. Is the car policy really more important than customer complaints?

I think executives, like us, argue for hours about carpet colors, desk sizes, and chair designs because these are physical objects that we all understand. But when it comes to the big issues of real business, then we know there are people in the room who are more expert than us. And so we keep quiet instead of staying involved. Our fear of sounding ignorant shuts us down instead of firing us up.

Think about it. As an executive, you should get fired up when a strategic issue is tabled that you know little about. Your ignorance should engage you, not glaze you.

If it will have a big impact on results, then get fired up! If it will not, shut up!

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You can listen here to the radio version of Too important to fire up (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

#653: Wasting away on tough decisions

Dont_lock_up_your_ideasSo, the world did not quite end last year nor did we go all the way off the cliff. You know what this means, don’t you? It means that all those tough decisions that you delayed making must now be made.

You are not alone. Take heart from the dysfunctional way Congress made its cliff-sliding decision. Few of us enjoy making tough decisions. We prefer to make popular decisions.

In the land of infinite selection of unnecessary stuff, it is obvious that we struggle with choice. Therefore, expecting us to make tough decisions, those with consequences, is asking a lot. No wonder we delay making decisions by wasting time finding excuses for not deciding now instead of using that same time to take a decision, any decision, and then to make it work.

But don’t worry. If you still cannot make that tough decision, someone else will. And then you can use your unused energy to gripe about it.

You can also listen here to the radio version of Wasting away on tough decisions (10 most recent radio files)

© 2012 James Henry McIntosh – nonsenseatwork.com

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