Better options lead to better decisions. Better decisions lead to greater success
If you've ever watched television in the last seventy years, you'll have bumped into Billy Mays, Vince Offer or Ron Popeil. They were Tv pitch artists selling you the best dicer, grater, cleaning product or mop-up towel that $19.99 (plus shipping and handling) could buy. Ron Popeil is the grandfather of them all, and his stock phrase was "But wait, there's more..."
While no one here needs you to buy the ShamWow, you do want to remember that the first answer someone gives you is almost never the only answer, and it's rarely the best answer. You may think that's obvious, but it's less so than you real-ize. Chip and Dan Heath, in their excellent book Decisive: How to Make Better Chok-es in LiA and Work, quote a study by Paul Nutt, a man "who may know more than anyone alive about how managers make decisions." Using a rigorous protocol, he reviewed the outcomes of 168 decisions made within organizations. He found that in 71 percent of the decisions, the choice preceding the decision was binary. It was simply: Should we do this? Or should we not?
Nutt made the point that this percentage was on par with (actually, slightly worse than) the ability of teenagers to create options before making decisions. Yes, those terrible decisions teenagers tend to make. And at least teenagers have the ex-cuse that their brains aren't yet fully formed. It's thus no surprise that Nutt found that decisions made from these binary choices had a failure rate greater than 5o percent. He then looked at the success rate of decisions that involved more choices. For instance, what would happen if you added just one more option: Should we do this? Or this? Or not? The results were startling. Having at least one more option lowered the failure rate by almost half, down to about 30 percent. When you use "And what else?" you'll get more options and often better op-tions. Better options lead to better decisions. Better decisions lead to greater success.
Focus is saying no to 1,000 good ideas.
Every time I read a management or self-help book, I find myself saying, “That’s fine, but that wasn’t really the hard thing about the situation.” The hard thing isn’t setting a big, hairy, audacious goal. The hard thing is laying people off when you miss the big goal. The hard thing isn’t hiring great people. The hard thing is when those “great people” develop a sense of entitlement and start demanding unreasonable things. The hard thing isn’t setting up an organizational chart. The hard thing is getting people to communicate within the organization that you just designed. The hard thing isn’t dreaming big. The hard thing is waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat when the dream turns into a nightmare.
The last 10% is 90% of the work.