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Don Maruska

4 Beliefs that Lead to Bad Decisions

All great leaders have one thing in common – they know how to make great decisions. But many people find making great decisions difficult because of common yet avoidable pitfalls. These pitfalls are caused by wrongly held beliefs. Here are 4 assumptions that can get in the way of making great decisions.


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About the Author

Don MaruskaDon Maruska founded and was CEO of three Silicon Valley companies and venture investor in startups that became public companies. He’s now a Master Certified Coach and author of How Great Decisions Get Made with Foreword by Margaret Wheatley (American Management Association, 2004) and co-author with Jay Perry of Take Charge of Your Talent: Three Keys to Thriving in Your Career, Organization, and Life with Foreword by Jim Kouzes (Berrett-Koehler 2013) serving high-growth firms and Fortune 500 companies. He earned his BA magna cum laude from Harvard and his MBA and JD from Stanford and previously led projects for McKinsey & Company.

StrategyDriven Decision-Making Best Practice Article

Decision-Making Best Practice 16 – Identify the Worst that Could Happen

Decisions put individuals and organizations at risk. Leaders feel compelled to make some decisions while others appear to be optional.


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Sharon Drew Morgen

Decisions are Never Emotional

Imagine if instead of believing that unexpected decisions are emotional, we assume they have a very specific reason, even if we don’t understand or agree. Then what? Is it just easier to believe the other person to be irrational?

Decision-Makers Must Comply with Their System

Because decision-makers take actions that outsiders regularly believe to be ‘irrational’, we say that they are either ’stupid’ or making an ‘emotional’ decision. Neuroscientists call these decisions irrational or emotional as well. But we – the outsiders and neuroscientists – are rather biased: we see a problem, believe we know the solution, and consider our solution to be the best because it’s the most rational. We forget that every person, every group or family, every system if you will, has a very unique and idiosyncratic set of beliefs and criteria that determine their choices. And what may look irrational from the outside is very, very rational on the inside, even if sometimes unconscious.

Indeed, before anyone makes any decision, they consider it against their own beliefs. Would you walk over to a stranger in a park and harm him? No? Why not? That would be an emotional, irrational decision. But you wouldn’t do it because you have internal, unconscious beliefs and values that wouldn’t allow you to harm another person – especially a stranger.

No one makes decisions outside of their beliefs. The internal, private ’system’ that makes up our functioning rules (as individuals or groups) is sacrosanct, and if any decision might render the system useless, or ‘less-than,’ then another decision will be made. And outsiders cannot understand what’s going or become a part of that decision because, well, because they are outsiders.

If you were going to start working out daily, you’d have to either get up earlier or move something else in your schedule around. You’d have to probably start considering to eat healthier, and maybe stop having so many sugary drinks. It’s not about the gym, or about the weights; it’s about your system and how it’s willing to change so it all becomes a seamless whole that operates in tandem to serve you.

Decision-makers live in a unique system of rules and roles and relationships, history and initiatives, feelings and vendors and budgets. Change anything and everything else gets touched in some way. Before decision-makers decide, they must figure out how to manage all this so it ends up butter-side-up; understanding their needs, doing SPIN or Sandler or Relationship sales, or or or, only manages the problem end of the decision – the very, very last action that decision-makers need to take – AFTER they’ve managed their systems change bits. And again, no matter what we ask or what we are told, we can never, ever understand someone else’s system, just as they can’t understand ours.


About the Author

Sharon Drew Morgen is founder of Morgen Facilitations, Inc. (www.newsalesparadigm.com). She is the visionary behind Buying Facilitation®, the decision facilitation model that enables people to change with integrity. A pioneer who has spoken about, written about, and taught the skills to help buyers buy, she is the author of the acclaimed New York Times Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and the new book Dirty Little Secrets: Why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it. She lives in Austin, Texas.

StrategyDriven Decision-Making Best Practice Article

Decision-Making Best Practice 10 – Establish Decision Execution Performance Measures

Managerial decisions often deal with fluid conditions and high risk situations. What might be prudent at the time a decision is made may not be appropriate soon after and could even adversely impact the organization.


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StrategyDriven Decision-Making Best Practice Article

Decision-Making Best Practice 9 – Never Let It Go Without Saying

Everyone has a collection of thoughts that are almost automatically acted upon under a given set of circumstances or in response to a specific type of event. Reflective of our beliefs and values, these actions occur naturally as if by reflex. Sometimes these thoughts and behaviors are so shaped by our values we don't give a 'second thought' to acting on them; in fact, we may unconsciously believe others who generally share our convictions will act similarly.


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