Decision Making vs Implementation

December 11, 2020

It is almost human, so to say , that a decision will be made but not carried out. Like on a decision to start a diet. Or exercising, or to stop yelling. Decisions that involve major change, there is a doubt whether they will be implemented.


There are many courses that tell us how to make a good decision, but I have not seen any on how to implement what was decided.


Business Schools for instance teach only how to make good decisions whether it is in marketing, in strategy, or in any otherfield necessary for leading a company but to my knowledge there is not one course on how to successfully implement decisions. Apparently, there's an erroneous assumption that if we make a good decision, it will be implemented.


It ain’t so.


Often very good decisions are made but we don't implement them, and we implement decisions that we know are not good, like smoking, or over drinking.


I suggest what makes for a good decision are not the same factors that will cause efficient implementation.


To make a good decision, you have to be open minded. You have to listen to voices of dissention so that all necessary information is taken into account.


For implementation the opposite is required: Be close minded. You have to be committed. You have to be focused and not waiver.


Many mistakes happen because people don't distinguish between the two different requirements. Here's an example. People might tell you, "It is a good decision” but they drag their feet to implement it. The decision will be at best, partially implemented or altered or not be implemented at all or worse, implemented maliciously: they will sabotage the implementation.


Where is the mistake? What is happening?


For decision making you need information and judgement of what is important and what is marginal.


For implementation you have to watch how the decision impacts the interests of those expected to implement the decision. There should be common interest between all stakeholders in implementation in order for the decision to be implemented in the spirit made.


Finding common interest of all those necessary for implementation might be too much to ask. There can be enormous amount of disparity in needs and expectations.   It might be even impossible to bridge them all and arrive at a common interest.


What to do?

There might not be at the time a common interest but if there is common vision and values and trust between the parties that if in the future the vision will be reached all parties will benefit from it, implementation has higher chances of happening. Trust is critical. The common interest now is to accomplish the vision and share the bounty created.


If there is common vision and common values and there is mutual trust that all involved in the decision will share in the fruits the decision yielded, one can assume the decision will be implemented. Change will happen. If on the other hand, there is no common values and vision and there is no mutual trust , the only way left to implement a decision is through a dictatorial approach ,command and control and threaten with punishment if the decision is not implemented; Implement with fear. It works in the short run but backfires in the long run. It is a choice we have to make.

Just thinking,

Ichak Kalderon Adizes

Written by
Dr. Ichak Adizes