“Decision is a sharp knife that cuts clean and straight; indecision, a dull one that hacks and tears and leaves ragged edges behind it.”
Successful business depends on trust. It begins with decision-makers. Trust extends to your clients, vendors, colleagues, and anyone you serve or have served. The integrity we bring to the decision-making process is not merely your moral compass, but the strength of your commitment to be the best, and make good choices.
One dimension resides in the willingness and ability to ask questions. This means being unafraid to look for more answers, being open to the divergent voice, and understanding how the right questions can provide answers to make the best product or service possible. They should anticipate change.
The Source of All Knowledge
American novelist Thomas Berger put it succinctly, “Asking questions is the source of all knowledge.” The persons and organizations that are practiced at the discipline of asking questions may come up with unexpected answers. Disruptive innovation comes of disruptive questions. At Motorola, an engineer was asked to develop the next car radiophone. He began with asking a new question, “Why is it that when we want to call and talk to a person, we have to call a place?” He untethered the person from the car. In 1973 he made the first cell phone call, on a prototype that would become the DynaTAC 8000X, aka, “The Brick.” More questions and incremental change would follow. The Brick debuted at $4,000, with a battery life of 20 minutes. Back to incremental innovation, it is said that the company that cracks the code on battery life, may command the market.
In an address at Columbia University in 1982, Admiral Hyman Rickover, the “father” of the U.S. nuclear navy, discussed his management philosophy. “When doing a job—any job—one must feel that he owns it, and act as though he will remain in the job forever. … Every manager has a personal responsibility not only to find problems but to correct them. This responsibility comes before all other obligations, before personal ambition or comfort.”
When you and your colleagues work in an organization with this shared commitment, decisions are based on information contributed from everyone who shares a personal responsibility for success. Yes, decisions can go wrong. Then we have to be able to let go and admit mistakes, in order to move forward. Mistakes are valuable. Building on your body of knowledge contributes to the next decision, an informed decision. A decisive decision is based on shared responsibility, intellectual curiosity, past experience, and the commitment of your team. It cuts like a sharp knife.