The Sequence At Which Decisions Should Be Made

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Sequence is very important. Just imagine going for surgery and the surgeon performs your operation and then washes his hands. Or wiping your nose first, and then sneezing. This doesn't work. The sequences are wrong. Decisions should be made within a certain sequence of variables, in order for them to be made well.

The first thing to determine when making a decision is, “What are we talking about?” You have to define the words you are using. You can end up in a fight if everybody has a different interpretation of the words that are being said. You might be talking about different things.

This is especially true in a marriage. What does the word “love” mean to you? It might mean one thing to you, and another thing to your spouse, and something else to your children, and something else to your neighbor. What do you mean by the word “love”?

And in business, what do we mean by the word “yes”? For the entrepreneur—the (E) type—“yes” means “maybe” or “Hmmm, why not?”. For a bureaucrat—the (A) type—“yes” means “yes”—nothing more and nothing less.

What do we mean by the words we use? We must be careful. We must start by defining what are we talking about.

Next, we must determine why are we talking about it. Why? What is the benefit of what we are talking about? What is the purpose of our discussion? And you must align the “what” with the “why.” If they don’t fit, you might have to go back and redefine what you're talking about in light of why you are talking about it. You must align those two variables before you can go on to the next variables, which are “how,” “by when,” and “who.” Which of these comes next depends on the subject. It can change. If there is a time pressure, then the next variable should be “by when.”

“How” are we going to do it? And in light of this, “who” is going to do it? If you can’t do it without enough people or the right people, then you will need to start with the “who.” “I know what I want to do. I know why I want to do it.” You must align this with the “who,” and if you can’t align it you might have to go back and adapt your “what” and “why” in consideration with the limitations of your “who.”

Next, look at the “how.” You might find that you don’t have enough money. So, you will have to go back and change “who” is going to do it, or “what” you are going to do, or even change “why” you are doing it to make those preceding variables align with the “how.” If you look at the “by when” and see that you don’t have time, then—oh my God—you might have to go back and change the “what” and the “why” and the “who” and the “how.”

When all five of these variables are aligned you know you have made a good decision.

• I know “what” I’m going to do.

• I know “why” I’m going to do it.

• I know “how” it’s going to be done.

• I know “by when” it will be done.

• I know “who” will do it. I have the right person.

Now we have made a decision.

Written by
Dr. Ichak Adizes
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