Tough Calls: How to Move Beyond Indecision and Good Intentions
The global economic turmoil that began in 2008 has taught numerous lessons—the most important one: When leaders make good decisions, little else matters. When they refuse to make decisions or show a pattern of making bad ones, nothing else matters. Corporate leaders should hear this as a clarion call that awakened us all to the fact that we can no longer afford the short-sighted luxury of considering decision-making a passive, pristine process. It’s not. It’s messy. Blaming failed mergers and acquisitions on “incompatible cultures” hastens the formation of the trap. Leaders blame “culture,” but, in truth, bad judgment and the fear of failure deserve more responsibility. Soon, patterns of bad judgment—those things that don’t work but that people feel loathe to change because “we’ve always done it that way”—emerge. The trap takes the form of anti-learning, anti-change, and eventually, anti-success. A paradox has emerged. On one hand, most agree that this trap compromises effective performance. On the other hand, leaders devote almost no focus to preventing, avoiding, or managing the trap. We need new ways of thinking about the environment of the organization—new ways to describe and understand companies—ways that will help us design and implement interventions that reduce or eliminate problems, not perpetuate them. Tough Calls is an attempt to reconcile this paradox and point the way to better leadership and decision-making.