Inside a conference room sits a 14 seat conference table. The furnishings are simple, tasteful and expensive. There’s a large whiteboard along one of the longest walls. Filling the board are half a dozen initiatives that the executive team has been tasked to complete during the first quarter of the new year. Six things that were distilled over a few weeks back in late summer when the CEO laid out his agenda for the next 18 months.
It was during that planning session time – back in August – when I led a discussion about wisdom in decision-making. This organization was high performing, comprised of both creative and analytic skills and personalities. Diversity was among the organizations greatest strengths, enabling them to carefully consider a variety of courses for most decisions. Speed often suffered because frequently the group felt too many options lingered in the decision-making pipeline. The team wanted to more quickly narrow the choices. That’s what prompted the conversation (questions, really) about wisdom.
I had made a comment one afternoon while extolling the virtue of getting things right in real-time (something I have long maintained is the real definition of wisdom). “Wisdom is basically getting it right in real-time, but mostly it involves making sure you get the value proposition correct.”
The group carefully considered what I’d said, asked for a bit of clarification on how I had come to this understanding and then the group engaged in a spirited conversation about how to best exercise wisdom in their decision-making.
“If you get the value proposition wrong, you overpay for things. Cars. Houses. Jewelry. Anything.”
The same thing happens in our businesses when we wrestle with choices. Some choices aren’t obviously clear. Better said, the value propositions aren’t always apparent. Sometimes they’re very hard. Other times they can be deceptive. One choice appears to be a higher value, but may actually involve more hidden costs, driving down the value. A lesser obvious choice may seem unsophisticated but could result in a high ROI because it can be quickly executed.
Time. Opportunity costs. Sales. Market conditions. Competition. There are lots of considerations.
Wisdom is getting it right in real-time. Getting it right means we’re able to figure out where the value is high. If we’re lucky (and really good), we may be able to figure out where the value is highest. Thankfully, that’s not necessary for success. We don’t have to find the highest value 100% of the time. We just have to find high value most of the time. Granted, those unicorn companies who find themselves hitting the magic billion dollar mark find (or stumble onto) extraordinarily high value, which fuels super growth.
Back in the conference room, we’re wrestling with some suggestions on how to best accomplish all this. It’s an illustration of how wisdom happens.
Shared experiences. Conversation. Questions. Considering different perspectives. Debating ideas.
Connection, collaboration and cooperation. It’s what Dr. Cloud calls “the power of the other.” We gain power from others. Not merely being around just anybody, but intentionally putting ourselves in the company of people driven and able to serve the greater whole. People with a focus, purpose and intention.
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