“Move fast with stable infrastructure” – Mark Zuckerberg

Company: Phil Green

Can you decide to decide?

“Move fast with stable infrastructure” – Mark Zuckerberg

Even Mr Zuckerberg had to acknowledge it is not as catchy as the original “Move fast and break things” and some have suggested that  it is a sign of Facebook’s maturity and a move away from the original Hacker mentality to the point where reliability as a platform for others is the key for the company.

I’m certainly not qualified to comment on the tech aspect but my attention was caught by the change in emphasis to the more “grown-up” phase and I reflected on other similar sayings that abound in management books.

Many of these suggest that you need to make quick decisions and move on and ….having spent too much of my last 10 years in 6 hour board meetings, I am the first to agree that slow decision making kills growth and innovation.

A lack of evidence is often cited as the reason for prevarication but I wonder whether the call for more analysis, another spreadsheet or that panacea for all, “A Matrix”, is really just reaching backwards into the known to avoid that step forward into the unknown.

What the good leaders seem to do is to make that step, some claim to do it on gut instinct others after detailed analysis, I generally find that most “instinctive” decisions are made by people who really understand the issue. These good leaders consult, they seek opinion and they might even seek consensus but they decide and decide quickly.

They also understand that not making a decision is a decision – it can be a great tactic, especially when the position is not clear but make it a positive and declared decision not to decide at the time, otherwise it looks like hesitation and hence weakness.

Also, those good leaders can make wrong decisions as often as, or maybe even more often than the rest of us.

The next step is the critical difference, is it blame-chasing time, analysis paralysis or power games?
What the best leaders do is acknowledge the error, review it quickly and then make a decision to move on, which might, ironically, be a decision to reverse the previous one.

We had some great examples in the FutureHub session last week; our three “Futurehubbers” – Jason Wickenden (Cheesmur Building Contractors ), Annabel Daguerre (Oyster Healthcare Communications ) and Liz Snook (The Treatment Rooms ) - have been selected as future leaders by their MDs.

Over the last 12 months we have covered a lot of the basics: personal style; leadership; strategy; coaching; sales & marketing; financials and business planning. On Thursday after the initial catch up, at 10.30 they were handed their task for the day – to produce a business plan for a microbrewery and present it with research, brand and marketing plan to a board of strangers, consisting of a banker; an accountant and a Managing Director, who were arriving at 3pm.

The first hour was hard, there was a certain amount of grumpiness and a bit of prevarication but once the first decision was made – who was to be CEO, the ideas and quick decisions followed. With only 3 and a half hours to go ideas were aired, debated robustly and decided quickly just to achieve the target. Not all of the decisions were spot on – I’m not sure calling it “River Rother Beers” was the best - try and ask for one of those when you have already had a couple.

What I saw was a team that knew it had to achieve something in a limited time, which made decisions, tried them out and changed them quickly, particularly after getting feedback from members of the public in Church Road , Hove– although I’m still not convinced about the Oak Smoked Toffee beer!

OK so it’s a false scenario, but under time pressure we often revert to type, so it was interesting to see them use each other’s strengths and work out a way to test and make quick decisions.

In IT the mantra is “Fail Fast, Fail Cheap, Fail Often”
Tom Peter said “Test Fast, Fail Fast, Adjust Fast”
Kolb’s learning cycle says “Concrete Experience, Reflective Observation, Abstract Conceptualisation, and Active Experimentation”

Variations on a theme?- maybe - but (mis)using Mr Zuckerberg’s new mantra perhaps the stable platform for most decisions is a good method for gathering information, debating the options and a clear understanding of the need for a decision, when it needs to be made and who will make it.

So decide to decide or decide not to decide …… either way decide decisively!

Categories: Brainery