1/17: Many Founders struggle to make critical decisions if they’ve been given competing advice from Investors and/or Lieutenants. It happens all the time and Founders need to build the competency to navigate these situations. A few thoughts on the topic:
2/17: Moving forward is a function of your comfort with the solution as well as your comfort with how your Investors, Lieutenants and team members will react to your solution. These are two different things and shouldn’t be co-mingled.
3/17: It’s helpful to deploy a structured framework when faced with a complex problem that doesn’t have an obvious answer. It’s even more helpful if you’re a novice at digesting competing advice. With practice this becomes an embedded skill and feels more fluid.
4/17: One framework that I’ve personally used successfully in the past (as well as during coaching sessions with Founders/Operators) is to break the decision into five steps: Listen, Study, Decide, Communicate and Act.
5/17: Step 1: Listen to all opinions. If explained well, each opinion will be an articulation of the hypothesized causes of the problem and the action steps that are most likely to correct the situation.
6/17: The best Lieutenants and Advisors will be able to explain WHY they believe their solution is the right one (i.e. - cause, effect, action, reaction) and these are the opinions that need to be held in highest regard. Poorly thought out opinions should be treated as noise.
7/17: Step 2: Study the fact pattern with the goal of designing a path forward based on the data you have at your disposal. Alone time with you and the data is critical. Sometimes you’re not ready to make a decision because you still have questions. This is normal.
8/17: Don't be afraid to challenge your team to go on fact-finding missions. Don't be afraid to ignore opinions that aren’t well thought out regardless of who they're from. Don’t be afraid that there could be people who disagree with your proposed solution.
9/17: Step 3: Decide the path forward. It's a fantasy standard to believe that a complex problem will get solved quickly or with a single action. Good plans include timelines for deliverables and measurements of success. Details matter so don’t gloss over them.
10/17: The most uncomfortable but also most important issue to keep in mind is that you need to project confidence in whatever choice you make and resulting path forward. It's OK to be wrong, but it's not OK to generate doubt in your organization through inaction.
11/17: Step 4: Communicate both the "what" and the "why". The "what" steers the organization and the "why" demonstrates that there's logic behind the decision. If the "why" isn't compelling then you haven't done enough work.
12/17: When a decision is controversial or counter to the advice given by an important constituency, it's important to acknowledge the opinions that weighed into your decision making process. But it's also important to make it clear that the "what" is no longer under debate.
13/17: By being in charge, you’re accountable for the results generated by the decisions you make. As long as you’re in the role, you get to make the decisions.
14/17: If an Investor isn’t happy with your decisions they can go through the steps to replace you with someone who they deem more capable (which they won’t do 99% of the time). If a Lieutenant isn’t happy with your decisions they can find another company to work for.
15/17: Step 5: Act quickly. A decision becomes real when actions are taken that move it forward. So the mere fact of taking your first step casts your decision in stone and is a signal to everyone that it’s time to get on board with the path forward.
16/17: Be aware that there will be people who can’t embrace your action plan even after you’ve explained the underlying “why”. Distractions can crush a team's chance of success so address dissent quickly regardless of where it comes from (including Investors/Board Members).
17/17: I’ll leave you with this: If advice that was given to you by your closest advisors was always consistent and always right then building your business would be easy. It’s best to embrace reality and learn to make tough calls!
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