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Metaphors Gone Wild: Quarterbacks and Decisions
“If you’re a quarterback,” Tom Brady of the New England Patriots maintains, “you want everything on your shoulders. You want to be the one to make the decisions.” Quarterback or ordinary decision-maker, we have all felt the burden of decision making. The metaphoric football reaches touchdown status only through a combination of the right people, the right conditions, and the right decisions.
Emotion regarding some decision can get in the way of clear thinking. Just consider what Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach John McKay says about emotion: “Emotion is highly overrated in football. My wife Corky is emotional as hell but can’t play football worth a damn.”
A more analytical method–but not one overly dependent on numbers–may serve you well, whether you are making solo or team decisions.
McKINSEY’S SEVEN “S” APPROACH
Data alone should not be all we rely on when making important decisions. McKinsey and Company urges moving beyond the dependence on quantitative information alone. The world-recognized management consulting company emphasizes the value of examining Style, Skills, systems, Structure, Staff, Strategy, and Shared value.
Other experts recommend identifying the long-term issues facing the organization. This critical first step has far-reaching implications. The identification may mean having strategic-review meetings that involve frank conversations with the ultimate decision-makers.
Clearly, there are numerous approaches to reaching the right decisions. Identification is vital though–many experts believe it is better to have the wrong answer to the correctly defined problem than having the right answer to the incorrectly identified problem.
HOW GOOD IS YOUR GUT?
Many decision-makers pride themselves on having a “golden gut”-that is, they make decisions based on their intuition. There is nothing wrong with doing that if you know for certain your intuition is more than 90% accurate.
The best decision-makers can shun “certitude” that often proves to be false. They give credence to the estimates that 50% of the assumptions we make are incorrect. Here is a simple way to test the accuracy of your intuition. Just answer “true” or “false” to each statement on the following page using only your “gut reaction” to guide you.
1) The tiger is the second largest species of the cat family.
2) Tigers can reach a length of up to 9 feet and weight as much as 400 pounds.
3) Among the many subspecies are the Malayan tiger, Siberian tiger, Bengal tiger, South China tiger, Sumatran tiger, and Indochinese tiger.
4) The tiger is no longer endangered, thanks to human efforts.
5) The majority (around 80%) of tiger cubs live to become full- grown tigers.
6) When tigers congregate, the group is known as an adulation of tigers.
7) Tigers fear the water.
8) White tigers are the figment of writers’ imaginations.
9) Tigers have their most successful hunts when they run together during the day.
10) Most of the tigers in the world today are in the wild.
Give the quiz to your team. Their responses will help when you are making decisions as a group. If there are truly intuitive individuals on the team–someone with a perfect score–consider their “gut reactions” seriously. If the team has wildly diverse replies, this very lack of unanimous thought suggests a more unified approach may be needed. Instead of a group vote on the best decision, there are more structured decision-making approaches available to teams.
Here are the answers to the tiger quiz:
#1 False (The tiger is the largest cat.)
#2 False (It can grow to 11 feet and weigh 660 pounds.)
#4 False (It is endangered because of hunting and the destruction of its habitat.)
#5 False (One-half of the cubs don’t live more than two years.)
#6 False (They are known as an “ambush” of tigers.)
#7 False (They are actually fairly good swimmers.)
#8 False (They exist-one in every 10,000 genes will produce a white tiger.)
#9 False (They are most successful at night, when they hunt individually.)
#10 False (Most are held as pets and in zoos.)
WANT TO BE A TIGER FOR A DAY?
The African proverb that asserts, “I would rather be a tiger for a day than a lamb for one hundred days,” suggest an aggressive approach to decision-making, not a haphazard or acquiescent one. Take the seven “s” words into account when you–working alone or collectively–have important decisions to make.
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