Are you facing a hard decision in your business today? Let’s face it, the answer to that is usually “yes”. On any given day, there’s typically something that’s gnawing away at you, something you’re struggling with.
To me, the first question to ask is simple: whether or not the decision is really “hard”. That may sound like a silly question, but really, it’s not. The question is whether the decision is hard, or just unpleasant.
Over many years, I’ve spent a lot of time building up my ulcers, agonizing over some decision or other. Now, looking back on them, I realize that many of them were just not ulcer-worthy. What I was struggling with wasn’t the decision, but the fact that I didn’t like the decision.
For example, I’m familiar with a family company, in its second generation and being run by two brothers. One brother serves as President, the other as Treasurer. It seems that the Treasurer’s main activity is to second-guess the President, which you can imagine is a real obstacle to progress. The whole company is gridlocked, and struggling to make a go of it. In the eyes of countless outside observers, and numerous key managers who have gotten fed up and left, the solution is obvious: the Treasurer has got to go. It is broadly agreed that the President is capable, and that the company could prosper if it weren’t for the daily battles between the two. But as long as the battles continue, the company is in jeopardy.
The problem is, the capable brother is, so far, incapable of taking the obvious step: firing his brother. You can imagine: decades of sibling rivalry, parents who wanted desperately to treat their sons “fairly”, one brother resenting the other’s obstructionism but feeling an enormous obligation to take care of him. This “hard” decision consumes him, all day, every day, to the increasing detriment of his health, his family life, and his wealth.
But, of course, the decision is not hard at all; it is simply unpleasant – very unpleasant. And ironically, once an obvious, unpleasant decision is made, and action taken, life rapidly improves for everyone, including the apparent “victim” of the decision. As you can imagine, in this example the Treasurer is just as miserable as he is making his brother, and both will benefit from a separation.
Who knows how this one will turn out? It’s certainly not a unique situation; countless companies struggle with it every day, and though some solve the problem, some never do. We can only hope that the President will be able to come to the realization that he’s facing only unpleasantness, not difficulty, and that that realization will help him step up to the task at hand.
© The MPI Group 2016