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30 Seconds That Can Change Your Life

A Decision-Making Guide for Those Who Refuse to be Mediocre

Roger Kaufman, Ph.D.

HRD Press, Inc. Amherst Massachusetts

Copyright © 2006, Roger Kaufman

Published by:

HRD Press, Inc. 22 Amherst Road Amherst, MA 01002 800-822-2801 (U.S. and Canada)

413-253-3488

413-253-3490 (fax) www.hrdpress.com

All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this material may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photo- copying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author.

ISBN 0-87425-916-9

Production services by Jean Miller Editorial services by Sally Farnham Cover design by Eileen Klockars

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements

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Introduction Can you really choose to change your life? Can this book really do some good? A map of the templates and guides in this book.

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Chapter 1. Decisions, You, and Success What’s this all about anyway? The three Cs of life. The 30 seconds that can change your life. Basic decision-making steps. Old and non-useful conven- tional wisdom and old realities.

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Chapter 2. The Five Keys for Successful Decisions Be strategic. The first guide for making useful deci- sions. Key success factor one: A Self-Assessment exercise. Shifting the bases for decisions: some new realities for making our decisions deliver success. Continuing and stable realities that may continue to guide us.

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Chapter 3. Don’t Confuse What with How (or Ends are Not the Same as Means) Key success factor two: Everything is measurable. A guide to aligning ends and means (and what with how).

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Chapter 4. Practical Dreaming: An Imperative Focus for Everything You Use, Do, Produce, and Deliver Mega thinking and planning—vital. Key success factor three: Mega and the ideal vision.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 5. Aligning Results and Consequences:

The Decision Success Model Story Key success factor four: Linking the now and the future. Mega, society, community, you, and success. Organization and family accomplishments—the next link in the value chain. Individual accomplishments:

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the building blocks of success. Putting all the pieces together. The value chain again: linking planning and results. Appendix to Chapter 5.

Chapter 6. Needs Versus Wants: Getting the Data for Justifiable Decisions Key success factor five: Using needs data to select means: from gaps in results to useful solutions.

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Chapter 7. It Is Decision Time:

That Critical 30 Seconds Template 3: a decison-making process. Getting your 30 seconds to be powerful. Self-assessment exercise. Before we close. Appendix to Chapter 7.

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Appendix: Bibliography

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About the Author

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Acknowledgments

This book is about decisions, you, and how you can change your life for the better. Change, choices, and consequences:

Here is what decisions are about and how you can take control of determining your own future.

I wish to thank the publisher of Human Resources

Development Press Robert W. Carkhuff who made some choices himself…for not only this book, but a series of volumes

defining the field of performance improvement as well as an “applications” series of which this is a part.

I dedicate this book to Theodore H. Blau and Harold

Greenwald. I had the privilege of working with both. I was much

the better for the experiences. I also dedicate this to my wife

and partner Jan Kaufman and our son Jac Kaufman who continue to teach me much…when I choose to learn from them. I also wish to recognize the contributions of Albert Ellis and Victor Frankl who taught, or at least tried to teach, me a great deal during the time when Blau, Greenwald, Ellis, and Frankl were on the faculty with me at the U.S. International University (now the Alliant International University) in San Diego where we were professors in the School of Human Behavior.

In addition, I owe much to many others including JC Fikes,

Leon Lessinger, Bob Corrigan, as well as many great students who have withstood me and made me decide to become better and better. Finally, my thanks go to those who reviewed this book in its various stages. Bits and pieces of this have been under development for many years and have grown, developed, been revised, and revised still again. The latest contributions to any value this book delivers were made by Professor Emeritus Dale

Brethower who provided many (and often painful) suggestions for making this clearer and more correct. Dr. Richard Gerson also provided useful guidance. I also thank Chris Dearborn for sensitive and sensible editing. The flaws and problems of this book remain my own personal responsibility.

Roger Kaufman

November 2005

Introduction

Thirty seconds? Give me a break! Sounds like some kind of scam, or at least a teaser to sell a book based only on a single simple-minded idea. No, the 30 second title is real, and so is the fact that you can change your life in that time. And all of this is based on cold hard reality. Thirty seconds is all that is required to get you to move from mediocrity to success. Sounds incredible at first. 1 The promise of this book is based on the insights of two of the three great psychotherapists of recent years. It is also supported by a virtual avalanche of change experts. In addition, it integrates the lessons learned from applications of science and research-based human performance technology to business, industry, and the military worldwide. What is here is useful to you in your work and in your life. And it will work for you.

You. Change is up to you. The “active ingredient” in your success is you. This book provides three guides (or templates) that can, if you decide to apply them, lead to success for you, your partners, your organization, and (yes) our shared society. If you are one of the few people on this planet who refuses to be mediocre and refuses to live a life of quiet desperation, this is for you. The difficult part (only at first glance) is getting yourself ready for those critical 30 seconds. And that is what this book is about. Thirty seconds. The choice is yours.

Can You Really Choose to Change Your Life?

Of course. We make decisions all the time. We can choose to be happy or sad, depressed or hopeful, reactive or proactive, healthy or ill. We can choose to be mediocre or to have real success. This book is a practical-yet-rich guide to making good choices. It is based in real and practical application and research.

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30 Seconds That Can Change Your Life

It is up to you to decide to change from the payoffs you are getting now from your decisions to ones that will make you more successful—and happy.

Can This Book Really Do Some Good?

Talk about choice. I had one to make: write this book to provide something useful, write one to simply make money, or do nothing. I made a choice. The choice was not without disagreement from others.

As I sat in front of one of the most successful editors in the business, I was taken aback. He was very clear:

“Make up your mind, doc. Either you want to sell books or you want to try to do some good. You can’t have it both ways.”

“I can’t attempt both?” I asked naively.

“What makes you think you will be the first? This is a good book—good stuffbut that is secondary. Want to sell? Then get practical, get real-world. There is a simple rule for selling ‘help’ books. Take one simple idea and twist and turn it a hundred ways, but never drift far from the one simple idea.”

“But life and work are complex! How can you do any good by pretending that one idea will make everything wonderful?”

“Sure, life and work are complex, but those who sell books—really hit the top 20—don’t confuse solid guidance with promoting one simple idea. Make up your mind. One or the other. If we don’t do it the conventional way, your books will be selling for 99 cents at the leftover book sales. My job is to sell books, nothing more and nothing less.”

The editor was right. At least for what spells market success. Up to now. The “wonderful” flavor-of-the- month books all seemed to be clear, well-written, and simple. So simple in fact, the leading management thinker Peter Drucker has been reported as saying

Introduction

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about this barrage of popular books, “I wish it were that simple.” I agree.

I wasn’t happy with an artificial choice. Sure I wanted to really help people make useful decisions that would lead to happiness and success. And sure, I want to have a successful book.

So I did what I advise others to do: Think like a researcher and ask relevant questions about the world I wanted to help create, and ask these questions before jumping into a solution. Could I both provide something useful to the rich tapestry of life and have a successful book?

But life is not simple, and one simplistic guiding rule won’t do anything but sell books. Even the Almighty could not boil the rules down to less than ten! I decided to go ahead with what you are now holding in your hands. Sure, the 30-second promise sounds like a quick-fix of the “sell-through-oversimplification,” but it is not. The book is about getting you ready for the 30-second decision, not making the decision for you or even telling you what decision to make. It is about getting ready for success—getting ready for those 30 critical seconds. And what you are now holding is an example of an editor and publisher who understand the importance of going beyond quick-fix bromides. It will be work for you (and for me to convince you, perhaps, of the reality in this approach). What follows provides the rationales that are sometimes counter-intuitive and fly in the face of conventional wisdom. But then again, mediocrity is the product of following conventional wisdom. Here is the promise: Your intelligence will not be insulted by this book following the conventional wisdom that states that you and I cannot keep track of more than one idea at a time. We can. Our lives seem complex, but this application of research, psychological theory, and practice to your success will be straightforward.

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30 Seconds That Can Change Your Life

This book contains:

Three templates, or guides, for framing every decision you make and calibrating the value and worth of your decisions, before you make them, and to evaluate them after they are made

These three guides are:

1. Five guiding success factors (if we were physicists, we might call them “first principles”)

2. Decision-making success elements

3. A six-step problem-solving guide

The reasons behind each of the guides and tools along with uncluttered details of why they make practical sense for you to use

A Map of the Templates and Guides in This Book

Below is a table that summarizes the templates and guides presented in this book:

Template/Guide

Components

Five Key Success Factors for Making Successful Decisions

1. Don’t assume that what worked in the past will work now. Get out of your comfort zone and be open to change.

2. Differentiate between ends and means.

3. Use a wide-world view—a big picture.

4. Use and link three levels of planning and results.

5. Define “need” as a gap in results.

(continued)

Introduction

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Template/Guide

Components

The Decision Success Model

Decision-making commitments

A Problem-Solving Process

Six steps

This book is not about psychotherapy (although some of the concepts and tools could be useful for such). This book is about choices and decision making. You are what you choose to do and not do, and you harvest the conse- quences of your choices. The contents of this book will provide you with practical guides and tools that will lead to both personal and workplace success—that will get you ready for those critical 30 seconds. Everything in life is connected, so I will be working with you, your personal relations, and your job, and providing exam- ples—real-life examples—for all these interacting realities. Decide to put them to work for you as you define and achieve success. You are only one decision—one good deci- sion that only takes 30 seconds—away from success…to get started in deciding to change your life. It works. The decision is yours.

Endnote

1. Happily I found an editor who was not hung up on selling books

alone, but thought more of you to sign this book. My thanks for restoring my confidence in publishing.

Chapter 1

Decisions, You, and Success

What’s This All About Anyway?

Decisions. We all make them. Some are good and some are not. But all decisions have consequences and payoffs. Most of us make decisions on the basis of habit, conventionality, lust, or fear. Decisions are made, usually without thinking about the consequences, either short or longer term. You may choose to change that approach to decision making. We are what we do, and we do what we decide to do. What we do determines pretty much what happens to us in life and work. Don’t like the consequences of your decisions? Change. Or accept mediocrity and all that it carries with it. We can make better decisions, and we can improve our personal and professional lives. Making good decisions is easy, but the process for getting ourselves ready to make good decisions is not conventional. Success in life and work is possible, and it all depends on our willingness to change.

The Three Cs of Life

There are three Cs 1 in our life:

Change

Choice

Consequences

We can count on change happening. We can be the victims of change—wait for things to happen and then react— or be the masters of change. We can take control, or wait for things to happen to us. We can make choices in our life. We can choose to take control or be victims. We can choose happiness or choose something else.

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30 Seconds That Can Save Your Life

And no matter what we do, or don’t do, there are conse- quences. Results. Impacts. We are responsible for the conse- quences in our lives. We can improve our own odds by knowing about and controlling chance through our choices. Three Cs of life.

Change. Change is scary for most of us. We know how to deal with whatever comes our way based on our current decisions and their consequences, or payoffs. Some would rather deal with what is currently coming our way than get out of their comfort zone and take a riska risk to change what we do and how we act. We can get beyond our history and our conven- tional ways of thinking and acting. But what is really riskier? Continuing on with the predict- able yet painful (or perhaps just boring and unrewarding) or deciding to make things better?

Choices. We all make choices. Not making choices is a choice. We can be the masters of change or the victim of it all depending on our choices. No matter our choices, the conse- quences are ours to own.

Consequences. What happens to us in our lives is largely up to us. If bad things happen, we can be resilient or “give up” and drift from day-to-day. Means—our choices about change—lead to consequences that are ends and results. It seems smart to link our choices to the consequences we want and not leave it up to what fate and indecision deal us.

The 30 Seconds that Can Change Your Life

Sometimes our continuing poor decisions lead to depression, serious anger, alienation, and other problems bothersome enough to seek professional help, including psychotherapy. We want to get help so that we can become healthier and happier. However, two of the few outstanding psychotherapists 2 of the past 50 years independently told me that actual psychotherapy only takes 30 seconds.

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Thirty seconds! How can that be true? I was puzzled at first, until they let out “the secret”:

Actually psychotherapy only takes 30 seconds! The rest of the time is spent getting ready to decide (and commit) to change.

Simple. Elegant. Revealing. So we can choose to be better, but it seems difficult to many to decide to change. But what about the conventional wisdom of psychotherapy taking a long, long time? Don’t we hear about those agonizing periods of therapy and analysis, of digging in the past, of unearthing old ghosts and demons, of blaming mother, father, friends, or relatives for our current situation? Yet two of the very best professionals in psychotherapy say that all the time is simply getting ready to decide to change. I believed them. I still do, and this belief became a basic inspiration for this book on change. This book is not about psychotherapy, but it is about the same kinds of decisions that psychotherapy attempts to promote. No, this book is just about practical decision making and change while building on practical research and insights gained from psychology. Change is within our control. If we want to alter the payoffs and consequences based on our decisions, just decide to change: change from the behaviors that give us the unwanted payoffs to the ones that will deliver the desired ones. Simple, isn’t it? You will likely be uncomfortable at first. But as the late Harold Greenwald, decision expert, has shown us, we often make decisions without really identifying the payoffs we really want, and deserve. We can decide to be successful and happy. So, it only takes 30 seconds to decide to change your life—from mediocrity to success. Thirty seconds. Getting to that point is what is more complex, and getting there depends on the decisions you make and the context you use to make those decisions. When we talk about decisions and changes, please think of the basic steps outlined in the table on the following page. This book is about making successful decisions.

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30 Seconds That Can Save Your Life

Basic Decision-Making Steps (Based on Harold Greenwald’s work) 3

Identify the payoffs you are getting now that you don’t want.

Identify the behaviors you are displaying that deliver the negative payoffs. 4

Identify the payoffs you do want.

Identify the behaviors that will deliver the desired payoffs.

Decide to change your behavior.

Change.

Be ready to decide to change in the future if you want different payoffs.

Some people would like to think they are powerless and that they have no control over what happens to them. Listen to their rhetoric:

She made me do it.

Government controls everything.

I really wasn’t loved enough as a child.

Big business controls it all.

There are forces at work that determine what is going to happen.

I do what I am told by my boss. I would not dare risk my job by objecting.

No matter how much I try, those with the money and power will decide.

Nobody can really understand.

A few people here make all the decisions.

The planning never involves me.

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Nobody listens to me.

My mother really was mean and I still carry those scars.

My ideas will never be accepted.

I am too fat.

Nothing really changes… and it never will.

I have too much work to try anything new.

My work is never appreciated.

You can’t fight City Hall.

The Far Right calls all the shots.

The Far Left calls all the shots.

The media never tells the truth.

I can’t make a difference.

We have tried that before.

If it isn’t my direct responsibility, I don’t get involved.

What we hear is never what is really happening.

You get the idea. Nothing is ever our fault. We are simply victims in the theatre of life. Problems always come from other sources. Others have all the power and we have none. We are just pawns in a larger game; we are never allowed to control. When we use these excuses, we decide to be like the pack—to be mediocre. Often we accept the plight of others as being our own:

Sara couldn’t get a job, so I will not be able to as well. Or, times are tough out there. My cousin just got laid off. Often we adopt problems that are not ours, or we generalize from the experiences of others to ourselves even though we, and our circumstances, might actually be very different. We frequently retreat into a role of helplessness and never take the risk of taking control of our own lives and our own futures. If someone else is going to make decisions that affect your life, why don’t you be that person? Frankly, nobody cares as much about you as you (even your sainted mother) and you

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should be the first person in line to decide what you do and what happens to you. In fact, if you accept a “victim role,” you have made the decision to do so.

The Victim Role. One manifestation of resigning oneself to mediocrity and accepting whatever comes is taking the role of a victim. When one acts helpless, they think they can blame whatever happens on external forces and that they have no control. Being a victim, or playing the role of one, is a sure-fire prescription to become and stay mediocre. Or possibly worse. 5 We often blame others for our problems and our current situation. From a bad mother to terrible siblings, nasty bullies, a poor family, bad environment, to… well, you get the idea. Ted Blau offered some good advice:

Everyone has to take two losses in life.

1. You were never really appreciated as being as good as you really were when you were a child.

2. There is nothing—absolutely nothing—you can do to change that.

This leads to a basic truth:

You are what you do.

You are responsible for what happens because of what you do.

No one is responsible for your behavior, only you. Make choices that bring you the results and consequences you want. You can decide to change, to take control, to become the master of change and not the victim of change. It only takes a decision. Decisions. We can decide to keep doing what we are doing and get the payoffs and consequences that come with those. Or we can decide to get the payoffs and consequences we want and likely

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deserve. Not making a decision is a decision. So, decide on the basis of what will be good for you. When something bothers us, it can be for several reasons:

1. What is being proposed is not useful. This should always be the primary filter. But make sure that your decision about it is not simply because it is new, “untested,” or never-before considered by you. New is not necessarily bad.

2. What is being proposed is scary. When we resist something, it might be just because we feel that doing something different is scary or will put us out of control. We know how to deal with the payoffs we now earn (even if they are undesirable), but we feel under control. Risk is often required to achieve success—the real success not being achieved currently.

3. What is being proposed is not understandable. Many “hot” ideas seem to be fuzzy yet comfortable. Or, we might “block” a new idea and possibility by simply saying “I don’t understand” in hopes the possibility will go away. This is risky.

When we reject something because it bothers us (often rationalizing one or more of these three possibilities) we use pushbacks: ways of blocking something, often using logical- sounding reasons that turn out not to be rational. We will discuss possible pushbacks as we go. Or we can decide to get the payoffs and consequences we want and likely deserve. Not making a decision is a decision. So decide on the basis of what will be good for you. The old and non-useful conventional wisdom of the times has not served us well. Listening to the “experts” (even if they write big-selling books, appear on talk shows, or have faculty positions at an Ivy League school) might not be good for your mental health, or your success. Let’s take a closer look in our effort to encourage you to make decisions to change your life for the better.

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30 Seconds That Can Save Your Life

Old and non-useful conventional wisdom has frequently failed us. We can benefit from what has worked in the past and change what has not. We should not automatically do what we have always done. When we rely on old and non-useful conventional wisdom—on old realities—we find trouble facing us square in the face. When something fails, it does not matter who told us to do it that way—failure is failure. As one slogan has it, “Success has a million parents, while failure is an orphan.” Not all conventional wisdom or “automated responses to our environment” are wrong. But they are not always right either. Why not pat ourselves on the back for our past accomplishments and be alert to how we might respond differently in the future? The past is just prologue; it isn’t an iron-clad guide to a successful future. Be ready to change. When failure rears its ugly head, no matter how earnest our excuses, you still are held accountable…even if you followed orders or used the accepted methods, thinking, and tools. Comfort and continuing past habits for their own sake have their costs. Even if you “follow the leader(s),” you own the successes or failures. One saying is worth considering: “Every pearl starts with an irritant.”

Old and Non-useful Conventional Wisdom and Old Realities

Let’s review some old realities and see what was accepted in the past but was wrong—popular, conventional, acceptable, and flat-out wrong. As we review these, 6 please remember that they were once the conventional wisdom of the day—the advice of the so- called experts of the time. Here are some nuggets that should give us all pause about following the leaders of today:

We deal with problems one at a time.

Convenient, but not sensible. Most of what happens in our world is going on at the same time as other things; they interact. If we deal with just one problem at a time, we will miss

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the whole. It would be like driving in traffic and only paying attention to other drivers in our rearview mirror and not realizing that other “problems” are also all around us—in traffic and in life. Single issue and linear thinking are not very useful. This is why this book doesn’t simply deal with one problem at a time, such as personal ones. Because one’s personal life interacts with our other lives that are running parallel to each other—self, family and friends, and work—all of these are interwoven in this book. Another problem with this linear thinking is that we don’t respond to the reality that life is complex and lots of things go on at the same time. A physician cannot prescribe a drug without knowing possible interactions with other drugs (and what your body produces). We know that we can say something on one topic to a significant other and not realize that other things might well be operating at the same time (“that’s not a good color on you” might interact with feelings of being fat, which was not at all the original intention). Only paying attention to one thing at a time can create problems for ourselves as well as problems created by others. For example, single-issue politics are devastating. Yet politicians 7 pander to single issues all the time. And we pay for it, all of it. They count votes, and we all should count useful results. And we should hold them accountable for their choices as we should hold ourselves accountable for our choices. For example, if local politicians decide to widen a road, in so doing they often invite more traffic and more congestion by making the new pathway more attractive. If we increase benefits for single mothers, we might be giving negative incentives for marriage and lasting partnerships. When we provide food for the poor, we might be ignoring education and training for them at the same time and, thus, perpetuate dependence and ill-will. These quick-fix single-issue intentions to help can all happen, even with the best of intentions. Things in our world are complex (like it or not), and our decisions have to take into account that complexity. We have to look at and account for all of the subsystems—parts of the whole—in our world while improving the overall system. 8

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30 Seconds That Can Save Your Life

One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different set of results. Here are more old paradigms and non-useful conventional wisdom that drove people and decisions who would not think critically about the person or statement:

Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.

Irving Fisher, Economics Professor, Yale University, 1929

Many wished that were so.

Everything that can be invented has been invented.

– Charles H. Duell, Commission, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899

Glad not many people listened.

Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.

– Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology, Toulouse, 1872

Are we not glad that physicians and pharmaceutical companies did not stop with this “wisdom of the day”?

640K ought to be enough for anybody.

– Bill Gates, 1981

Heavier-than-air flying machines are an impossibility.

– Lord Kelvin, President, Royal Society, 1895

I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.

– Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM, 1943

We can surmise that Dell and Gateway did not agree.

There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.

– Ken Olson, Chairman and Founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

Any in the list you find useful today? Remember, once these were the paradigms of choice—staying in the comfort zone stuff.

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Get the idea? Even the rich and famous can get it wrong about both now and in the future. Just because someone is the boss, an author on the New York Times Best Seller List, famous, or powerful does not mean blindly following them will be to our advantage. There is a lot of old and non-useful conventional wisdom out there about personal relationships, including that women should act dependent or they should never let a guy know she cares about him. Men only want one thing and women only want protection and security. Other old and non-useful conventional wisdom is that one has to “buy love” and spend to get affection in return, or that there are “guy cars” and “chick cars” and not ones that are functional and acceptable to both genders. Conventional. Commonly accepted. And wrong. If you still have the book in your hands, you have gotten over “I have heard all of this stuff before” enough to investigate further. You have just made decision number one on the road to your success!

Endnotes

1. Dr. Richard Gerson suggests a fourth C: Commitment.

2. And I was influenced by the third one but did not have the benefit

of as much direct interaction with him.

3. These are the basic steps of Greenwald’s Direct Decision

Therapy. Powerful and rational: And they are practical for everyday life.

4. Payoffs are the rewards and consequences of our decisions.

5. Viktor Frankl once mentioned to me that “there are no unwilling

victims.” This likely came from his experiences in Nazi death camps where he noted that those who survived usually were the ones who would not allow anyone to take away their own self-worth…he felt it had to be given away. This is a harsh insight given how terrorists for centuries have victimized innocents. However, psychologically, I suggest Frankl is correct: We can choose to accept victimhood and give away our self-worth.

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30 Seconds That Can Save Your Life

6. The Internet is a valuable source of information. Unfortunately,

some of what is there is unedited, often not confirmed, and not attributed to original authors or sources. Some of the items I use here are from the Internet (and thanks to many graduate students who have discovered and filtered these), so I cannot always credit the real contributor. My thanks to them, however. And if they will let me know, I will be very happy to give credit to them.

7. One definition of politics provided by Peter Senge is “when who is

more important than what.” This is a confusion of means and ends. Another interesting definition of a politician is “someone who as soon as they see the light and the end of the tunnel quickly builds more tunnel.”

8. Much to my dismay, a noted biologist told me several years ago

that less than 5% of the world is psychologically capable of under- standing the difference between the whole and its parts. I hope he is wrong, and I sure hope you will help me prove he is.

Chapter 2

The Five Keys for Successful Decisions

The promise: You are only one good decision away from changing your life—a decision that only takes 30 seconds. So let’s get to those tools for making useful decisions and for changing your life for the better. That one critical decision—the 30-second one—is based on three guides, or templates, that provide the tools for success. This chapter deals with one of the important ingredients:

decisions and decision making. This chapter gets you ready to make useful decisions—decisions that will deliver success, make you strategic, and make you happier. 1

Be Strategic

Strategic? Yes. Being strategic is nothing more than:

Selecting where you want to head,

Confirming why you really want to get there, and

Defining how to know when you have arrived.

Strategy is about defining the most useful destination before deciding how to get from where you are to that destination. Tactics deal with the choices for getting you to the destination you select. With the precise definition of destination—where you are headed and how to tell when you have arrived—you may then make practical choices on how to get from where you are to where you want to be. Thus you will put means (how-to-do-its) into proper relation with ends (results and consequences):

DESTINATION

(Ends)

proper relation with ends (results and consequences): DESTINATION (Ends) MEANS (and Resources) PAYOFFS and CONSEQUENCES

MEANS

(and Resources)

proper relation with ends (results and consequences): DESTINATION (Ends) MEANS (and Resources) PAYOFFS and CONSEQUENCES

PAYOFFS and

CONSEQUENCES

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30 Seconds That Can Change Your Life

After previewing all five key success factors, we investigate the whys of making the first single decision that will make you successful and set the stage for other decisions, also based on the five keys, to continue on the same path to success. Let’s preview the five key success factors for making suc- cessful decisions and then discuss each and show how you use them all to make successful decisions for thinking, plan- ning, and being strategic. Ready? First let’s look at the unvarnished versions and then explain each one in terms of how each may be important for you.

The First Guide for Making Useful Decisions

We promised in the Introduction to give you three templates, or guides, for useful decision making. The first guide is presented on the next page. These five key success factors might sound theoretical at first, but let’s explain each and show how they are very practi- cal indeed. We will take these five factors and show you how to apply them to your life and to your world. The five key success factors are general; they can be applied to business as well as to our personal life (yes, both organizational and personal). Let’s start looking into them so that you can see for your- self how practical they really are. What??? Up front we told you that this wouldn’t be conven- tional or usual. This is not a bunch of “standard” business school slogans or quick fixes 2 (they have caused enough prob- lems), but rather a new and refreshing way of thinking, plan- ning, doing, evaluating, and harvesting success. These are not the single-issue, make-over-your personality, overnight guides. Life is complex, and so will be the pieces and parts of successful decision making.

Chapter 2. The Five Keys for Successful Decisions

15

Five Key Success Factors for Making Successful Decisions: Becoming a Strategic Thinker*

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

Don’t assume that what worked in the past will work now. Get out of your comfort zone and be open to change.

Differentiate between ends (what) and means (how) and prepare all objectives to measure accomplishment.

Use a wide-world view—an ideal vision (Mega) 3 of what kind of world, in measurable performance terms, we want for all of us, including tomorrow’s child, as the underlying basis for planning, decision making, and continuous improvement.

Use all three levels of planning and results (Mega/Outcomes;

Macro/Outputs; Micro/Products)

4

for decision making.

Define “need” as a gap in results (not as insufficient levels of resources, means, or methods).

*In each chapter, these five key decision factors are provided with the major topic of that chapter in bold.

But it will all come together for you.

Let’s Keep Moving On. Chapters 2 through 6 will each deal with one of the five key success factors. As we look at each one, please remember that they form a fabric where all are important and interrelated—all of them.

Key Success Factor One

Here is the first successful decision-making key that, if you choose to apply, will help you be successful:

Don’t assume that what worked in the past will work now. Get out of your comfort zone and be open to change.

This is the one that controls all of the others, and it’s a tough one because it involves risk. It is the one that keeps us away from success unless we choose to overcome our natural

16

30 Seconds That Can Change Your Life

inertia. We tend to respond almost automatically and assume that our responses to each situation that worked in the past will work for us now. Not true. While this is comfortable, it isn’t necessarily useful. Times change, situations change, and you should be ready, able, and willing to change as well. Most people prefer to stay where they are comfortable. They tend to repeat past responses even in the context of new realities, new situations, and new surroundings, even if it means staying miserable. At least they know things will be predictable: no surprises, just miserable and predictable. They have a zone in which they feel comfortable operating, and when they push themselves out (or someone forces them out) of that area, they get tense, irritable, and defensive—in other words, human. 5 When we address today only on the basis of yesterday, we miss the opportunity to find new things that will work. Sure, just because it is old wisdom doesn’t make it wrong, but get off “auto-pilot” and consider each new situation as an opportunity to apply different and more successful responses. We have all seen “automated” responses based on old scripts: “All blonds are…” “All men are…” “You just can’t trust that kind…” Many of these stereotypes will make us miss new opportunities. Sometimes acting on old experiences and understandings cause us to act powerless: “That kind of decision cannot be made at my level,” or “Those are the rules. I don’t make them, I just follow them.” We usually try to find ways to keep on doing what we already know and do, even though we know doing so will lead to failure. It is said that 95 percent of all people get up each day and do exactly what they did the day before: routine, predictable, and often non-productive, but comfortable. Look for different and sensible ways to view life and what happens to you.

We know the pressure to conform: to see what the other gal or guy is doing and follow that. Recall the often well- intentioned advice that we have internalized:

To get along, go along.

Chapter 2. The Five Keys for Successful Decisions

17

If you are busy rowing, you don’t have time to rock the boat.

When you are boss, you can do what you want.

Don’t anger anyone.

Don’t trust others. Ever.

Do it the way we have always done it.

Watch and do what the others in power do.

Benchmark the leaders.

Do what the client wants.

Do what the boss wants.

Don’t make waves.

Do it the way the popular authors say to do it.

Do it the way the consultant says to do it.

…and you can add more from your own experience.

Options Are Available to You: Choices, Choices, Choices. Which of the above will you follow? Which will you continue to choose? They are all convenient ways to make poor decisions and continue on a conventional path. Giving up what will work—or bring success—for what is acceptable and comfortable means giving up our unique abilities and goals. It also keeps us away from making useful decisions. If you don’t like what is happening to you now, it isn’t much of a risk to choose to think and respond differently from the way you do now.

How much is the short-term acceptance of others worth to you? How much of yourself and your future success are you willing to trade? Can you take acceptance to the bank? Does it taste anything like steak, champagne, or caviar? Here is a list of usual and conventional ways of behaving. For each one, check those that you now do and those you might consider not doing (changing):

18

30 Seconds That Can Change Your Life

Conventional Ways of Behaving

I Do

I Might

That Now

Consider

Changing

To get along, go along.

q

q

If you are busy rowing, you don’t have time to rock the boat.

q

q

When you are boss, you can do what you want.

q

q

Don’t anger anyone.

q

q

Don’t trust others. Ever.

q

q

Do it the way we have always done it.

q

q

Watch and do what those in power do.

q

q

Benchmark the leaders.

q

q

Do what the client wants.

q

q

Do what the boss wants.

q

q

Don’t make waves.

q

q

Do it the way the popular authors say to do it.

q

q

Do it the way the consultant says to do it.

q

q

Other:

q

q

Do any of your responses to these statements provide inspiration for deciding to make some changes in the ways you now do things in your life?

Deciding to Change and Selecting What to Change. Change is important. Only you can decide to change and what to change.

Chapter 2. The Five Keys for Successful Decisions

19

Only you can decide to take a risk and change the payoffs in life you are now getting. You can decide to be successful and that requires some change. But what to change and what to keep? How about taking a look into yourself?

Self-Assessment Exercise

Following is a set of statements that provide some options for you—options for change to look at how you now act and how you believe it would be useful to act. For each statement, rate yourself on the two dimensions, on the left side of the statement for What Is, and on the right side for What Should Be. 6 When you have done this, you may then see some options for deciding on useful change.

20

30 Seconds That Can Change Your Life

Change Self-Assessment

WHAT IS

Describe how you see you currently operating.

Indicate the relative frequency with which the following statements are true concerning the "drivers" for the way you make decisions. Please provide two ratings for each statement. Use the following scale:

1 Rarely, if Ever

2 Almost Never

3 Not Usually

=

=

=

4 Sometimes

5 Quite Frequently

6 Consistently

=

=

=

WHAT SHOULD BE Describe how you
WHAT
SHOULD BE
Describe how you

think you should

be operating.

123456

I avoid making decisions.

123456

123456

I make decisions in order to be accepted by others.

123456

123456

I do things the way I have done them in the past.

123456

123456

I am happy with where I am in my organization.

123456

123456

I am happy with my personal relationships.

123456

123456

I am happy with my life.

123456

123456

I watch others to see what they do before acting.

123456

123456

I am open to new ideas and frames of reference.

123456

123456

I make decisions without objective data, using only my experience or my hunches.

123456

123456

I feel uncomfortable doing things that are out of my friends' norms.

123456

123456

I worry about my decisions once made.

123456

123456

I don't care what others think when I make a decision.

123456

123456

I would rather do what will be accepted rather than that which will be successful.

123456

123456

I make a decision without the approval of my boss.

123456

123456

I make decisions that will lead to my becoming the boss.

123456

123456

I want acceptance of others even at high personal cost.

123456

(continued)

Chapter 2. The Five Keys for Successful Decisions

21

CHANGE SELF-ASSESSMENT

WHAT IS

Describe how you see you currently operating.

Indicate the relative frequency with which the following statements are true concerning the "drivers" for the way you make decisions. Please provide two ratings for each statement. Use the following scale:

1 Rarely, if Ever

2 Almost Never

3 Not Usually

=

=

=

4 Sometimes

5 Quite Frequently

6 Consistently

=

=

=

WHAT SHOULD BE Describe how you
WHAT
SHOULD BE
Describe how you

think you should

be operating.

123456

I take risks to be successful.

123456

123456

I use fads.

123456

123456

I make decisions that will lead to personal success.

123456

123456

I make decisions that will lead to organizational success.

123456

123456

I make decisions that lead to good personal relationships.

123456

123456

I evaluate the consequences of my decisions on the job.

123456

123456

I evaluate the consequences of my decisions for my organization.

123456

123456

I evaluate the consequences of my decisions for my personal relationships.

123456

123456

I use evaluation results for blaming myself or others.

123456

123456

I use evaluation results for fixing and improving.

123456

123456

The impact of what I do and what my organization delivers for external clients

123456

 

and our shared society is my primary focus.

123456

I

keep acting the same ways even though they lead to my unhappiness.

123456

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30 Seconds That Can Change Your Life

Using This Self-Assessment.

1.

Scan the gaps between What Is and What Should Be for these self-assessment items, and identify any choices or patterns of choices and decisions you might want to change.

2.

List the top five in priority order—in the order in which you would like to close the gaps between What Is and What Should Be.

3.

If

there are two or more units of distance between

What Is and What Should Be for an item, consider making a decision to close that gap. After all, you are considering making decisions that will bring you personal as well as organizational success. Define What Is and the results they deliver and then consider What Should Be and note areas for changing what you do—your decisions and the consequences of those decisions.

A

warning, however: Not all items in the list are “good”

for success. For example, always wanting more data might block you from timely and appropriate action. Or watching and using what others do to copy “best practices” for your own use assume that their objectives are the same as yours. That is risky. Other people’s (or other organizations’) objectives are rarely the same.

Study the items and decide which ones will lead to successful choices and which ones might not.

4.

List the items you order.

would like to change in priority

Want more reasons to give up old ways of thinking, doing, and relating? Continuing to respond to our world the way we have always done in the past can often fail us and will likely continue to do so. 7 Keep what works now, and give up what doesn’t. But be ready to change how you respond and act.

Chapter 2. The Five Keys for Successful Decisions

23

When we rely on old realities, we frequently find trouble facing us square in the face. When something fails, it does not matter who told us to do it that way. Failure is failure. When failure rears its ugly head, no matter how earnest the excuses, you still are held accountable, even if you followed orders or used the accepted methods, thinking, and tools. Comfort has its costs. Even if you “follow the leader(s)” you own the successes or failures. In Chapter 1, we went over some unfortunate old-paradigm thinking and advice: what is conventional, popular, and accepted might not be useful at all. In fact, it might be dead wrong. Are there any in that list in Chapter 1 that you find useful today? Remember, at one time these were the paradigms of choice: staying in the comfort zone stuff.

Shifting the Bases for Decisions: Some New Realities for Making Our Decisions Deliver Success

There are new realities to be considered if we are to define and deliver personal as well as organizational success. 8 Based on research (including my own), there are some new realities to consider if you are to make useful—successful—decisions. In getting ready for that fateful 30-second decision, we have to get ourselves into a context—our world—that makes good sense. As we saw earlier, there are a lot of stereotypes about our world that don’t serve us well. They don’t build a reality base for our thinking, planning, and doing. But if the current (and past) don’t work so well anymore, what do we replace it with? Here are some new realities to guide our thinking, plan- ning, and doing:

Tomorrow is not a linear projection of yesterday or today; you can't solve today's or tomorrow’s problems with the same paradigms and tools that created them.

After September 11, 2001, we know we can no longer just focus on individual performance improvement or single tasks or jobs—systems approaches. Every-

24

30 Seconds That Can Change Your Life

thing we use, do, produce, and deliver must add value at the societal level: a system approach. 9

Think globally as you act locally.

Useful change has to add value to all partners and stakeholders.

We should offer customers what they could really use, not just what they want.

It is easier to kill an organization than it is to change it (modeled after Peters).

Reality is not divided into disciplines, courses, departments, sections, agencies, laws, policies, or issues.

If you can't predict the future, create it (modeled after Drucker).

We are now getting better and better at doing that

all (modeled after

which should not Drucker).

be

done

at

Evaluation is about improvement, not blaming; we should fix the problem, not fix the blame.

There are two “bottom lines” for every organization:

societal and conventional. Adding more bottom lines fragments the whole of societal value added.

Making money and doing societal good must not be mutually exclusive.

Don’t be the best of the best, be the only one who does what you do (Jerry Garcia).

Ask, “If my organization is the solution, what’s the problem?” (Or ask, “If I am the solution, what’s the problem?”)

Chapter 2. The Five Keys for Successful Decisions

25

These new realities can guide us as we make new decisions—decisions to change the consequences of our current decisions. These will be useful only if you choose to shift from immediate comfort and what others are doing to new decisions to move from the current payoffs to a new paradigm of defining the kind of person you want to become, and then choosing what results you commit to deliver to yourself, others, your organization, and the world. Which ones will you choose? Why? Which ones will you decide to use? Why? Read the description of each new reality below to help you decide.

Tomorrow is not a linear projection of yesterday. Things don’t progress smoothly in our world. Things seem to jump and leap, not making smooth transitions over time. We often go in step-functions—big, sudden, and steep shifts. The Japanese economy that was so strongly respected and feared in the 1980s didn’t continue to dominate, but instead it sank quickly. The bicycle did not slowly evolve into the motorcycle to the automobile to the airplane. The progression was fast, sudden, steep, and dramatic. We did not take as long to get from the abacus to the computer as we did to get from counting on our fingers to the abacus. Don’t plan for slow and smooth evolutions, but bet on fast and dramatic ones. Speaking of things that happen fast, recall how terrorists on September 11, 2001, changed the lives of all of us around 9:00 a.m. in New York (and then in Washington, D.C., and thanks to a handful of heroes, a little less tragedy in Pennsylvania). Regardless of the reasons, a new reality was thrust on us—tragically, horribly, and quickly.

After September 11, 2001, we know we can no longer just focus on individual performance improvement, or systems approaches. Everything we use, do, produce, and deliver must add value at the societal level: a system approach. On that fateful morning, security screeners were trained to look at splinters of a whole; they looked only for people with

26

30 Seconds That Can Change Your Life

individual weapons and not also to a holistic driver of “arrive alive.” It was not in their paradigm to ask, “Why are five unre- lated passengers each carrying box cutters?” Instead, they only looked with a unit of analysis or focus on each passenger carrying a then-legal box cutter and not the fatal pattern of five people on the same aircraft carrying one each. Just looking at the parts of a system and not the whole, they missed the whole pattern. When they looked at each passenger as “the sys- tem”—a systems approach—and not the overall safety of all—a system approach—they had little chance of averting terror, terror beyond our wildest expectations. And the world of most civilized people turned upside down in an instant. No longer can we focus on a part of the whole and not the whole. No longer can we focus on individual systems, but rather we have to focus on the whole system. To use a systems approach and not a system approach is like fixing sales and marketing without also including manufacturing, human resources, shipping, and all aspects of an organization into our decisions. It would be like taking care to focus on our personal appearance subsystem (confusing that with the whole story) and forgetting about our personal hygiene as well as our personal people-skills. When we look at one or more of the parts, that is a systems approach. When we look at the whole, including society now and in the future, that is a system approach. What a difference an “s” makes, even though it might at first seem like semantic quibbling. It is the whole that has to define the parts and how they all must work together. First define the whole—the biggest picture—and then the parts. Don’t confuse the parts, no matter how well designed and managed, with the whole. Don’t confuse a tough jogging routine with overall health and well-being.

Wholes and Parts: A System Approach and a Systems Approach. Let’s take a look at some examples of your current personal situation of wholes and parts:

Chapter 2. The Five Keys for Successful Decisions

27

Example

Whole (or

Part (or

System)

Systems)

My partner 10

 

X

World well-being 11

X

 

My organization

 

X

My neighborhood

X

 

Global business 12

X

 

My job

 

X

From your personal perspective, what you use, do, produce, deliver, and the consequences of that are usually seen as ourselves being the center of the universe. Understandable, but a bit deceptive. It is important that we see ourselves in the context of our shared world. Looking inward for our focus can be deceptive. While one’s partner is important, it is just a piece of overall happiness and survival. While we might be interested in our survival and quality of life, we must consider it in the context of the world stage (my using up all of a resource that others cannot get access to might create external conflict). For example, the United States is a major consumer of energy, and now, so are other evolving business entities, such as China. They all are competing (along with others) for limited resources. Who wins? Who can blackmail either or both of us? What should we give away in order to buy energy? And if and when we do, what are the long, as well as the immediate, costs and consequences? In business and in life, it seems easier at first to focus on the parts and try to fix those, and assume if you do a good enough job, the whole will be better off. As the song goes, “it ain’t necessarily so.” Realize that whole and parts must be related and linked; we must act on the basis of “We are vital parts inside of large wholes.”

28

30 Seconds That Can Change Your Life

Think globally as you act locally. This is a variation of the September 11 new reality. The advice here is to look at the whole while focusing attention on parts of the whole. Align what you use, do, produce, and deliver to adding value to our shared world. Responsible environmentalists have suggested this world view and the associated advice that leads to working on specific good deeds, such as recycling, in terms of adding value to the whole: the survival of our shared planet. In your personal life, change your behaviors, but only in terms of its adding value to your whole persona and its worth and value. In your organization, fix parts of the organization while realizing that each part must add value to the whole.

Useful change has to add value to all partners and stakeholders. Recent research 13 shows us that change programs have a failure rate of about 60 percent in the first year and almost all go away by the end of the second year. Why? More often than not, change programs are designed without revealing the fact that the changes will be to the advantage of a very few and not all stakeholders. Our life partners and friends often tell us to change, and often the suggestion is good for the person making the suggestion and not necessarily for us. For example, someone might suggest to you to be nice and help around the house while they litter and sleep late; New Year’s resolutions abound, but usually fall to dust around January 2 nd or 3 rd simply because there doesn’t seem to be a real reason to change; your boss wants to initiate a quality improvement program and does not provide appropri- ate incentives for all who will act on the change. So there seem to be two reasons that change initiatives don’t work: (1) the payoffs are for a few and not all, and/or (2) we ask for change but don’t change the rewards for the change we request. These are a blueprint for assured failure of change initiatives, both organizational or personal.

Chapter 2. The Five Keys for Successful Decisions

29

We should offer customers what they could really use, not just what they want. Just because the customer (or someone we care about) wants something, that doesn’t mean it is the right thing for them to have or for us to help provide. Increasingly, organizations are finding that doing what is right for our shared world might not be prized by their customers. For example, Honda pushed for great fuel economy, despite initial customer resistance. Fast foods can be slimmed down, and whole grains can be offered in grocery stores for the benefit of their customers’ health. Old thinking is that we must give others what they want. New thinking is helping them by offering what they can really use. Be ahead of the market, not just react to it. Be ahead in a relationship, not just react to it.

It is easier to kill an organization than it is to change it. 14 (Or it is easier for us to get sick and even die than it is to change). The resistance to change is so strong that many people, knowingly or not, choose not to change simply to feel comfortable for the here-and-now, even when they admit the organization is in deep decline—a high price to pay for comfort. Have you ever heard someone say, “I don’t know why I keep overeating. I just can’t stop myself.” Yet they know that being overweight leads to lousy health and before-one’s-time death. Is it easier to hurt (or kill) yourself than it is to change? Have you ever thought, “Why do I keep falling for the same kind of people… I always end up getting hurt”? Or have you ever heard a co-worker say, “I am not going to change, I am only a couple of years from retirement”? Again, one can choose success or failure. It is a personal decision. But whatever the decision, one owns the conse- quences of it.

Reality is not divided into disciplines, courses, depart- ments, sections, agencies, laws, policies, or issues. Splin- ters. Pieces. Parts. Stove pipes. The conventional way to look at problems is to see them as parts of the whole, not the whole. Thus we might address a symptom or part of the problem

30

30 Seconds That Can Change Your Life

instead of looking at the whole problem including its context. For example, citizens vote to widen roads only to find that doing so increases traffic because the new wider lanes are more attractive when driving. In Florida, a constitutional amendment was passed limiting school class size only to find out later that doing so cut the heart out of the total state budget without any assurance that smaller classes really did lead to improved measurable learner performance. Politicians and citizens alike tend to look at “issues” rather than first looking at the results they want to accomplish (no traffic jams, acceptable learner performance, etc.) and end up with solutions-in-search-of-problems; they select means before defining and justifying the ends. In organizations, we print organization charts and pretend that those really represent how the organization really works. We know it doesn’t. In colleges, we emphasize each individual course and assume that passing those courses really adds to a competent and educated person. We know better. We do “strategic planning” for agencies, departments, sections, and units only to later realize that no matter how well we perform at each lower organizational level, if those improvements are not linked to adding value to the total organization and our shared society, it might be like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic; without the right direction, no matter how hard or cleverly we work on the parts, disaster might result anyway. In our lives, we tend to look at single issues: our weight, our age, our diet, our exercise. If we look at only the pieces by themselves without looking at the overall requirements for health and well-being, we will likely fail in our self-improvement efforts. We know that weight reduction and diet don’t work as well unless we combine those with exercise; we know that the body is more than the sum of its parts. Focus on the whole before attempting to improve any part.

If you can't predict the future, create it. This powerful new reality is courtesy of management guru-of-gurus Peter Drucker. It is great insight: proactive, sensible, and practical.

Chapter 2. The Five Keys for Successful Decisions

31

This flies in the face of the conventional thinking that we have to predict the future (know of all those infernal futures studies or the Sunday supplement articles on what changes are

in the air) and gives some simple advice: Create the future you

want; don’t wait to be overtaken by changes, or just react to

change rather than create your own future. For example, during

a recession, many organizations just cut back on everything:

They let people go, they cut back on marketing, and they “hunker down” until the economic problem passes. Those who tend to survive see—as do the Chinese who combine the symbols of “fear” and “opportunity” to spell out “threat”—that when everyone else is running for cover, it might be the best time to invest in your future. But change is up to you—just you and you alone. There is the old joke that goes: How many California therapists does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Only one, but the light bulb really has to want to change. Funny, but true. For your future happiness and success, you really have to want to change. Want to have a happy life? The late world-class psychotherapist Harold Greenwald’s advice to be happy is to simply act happy and happiness will surely follow. You must create your own happiness by acting happy. Want a great relationship with someone? Create it. Want a better business? Create it. We can define success in our personal and organizational lives; all we have to do is to act in a way to create it and ignore the pushbacks. Simple and powerful: Create the kind of life you want through your decisions to change. This is vital. Pause for a bit and think about this one and the power it might give you.

We are now getting better and better at doing that which should not be done at all. This is another Peter Drucker insight. We keep trying to improve the efficiency of what we now do and never ask, “Why should we be doing this in the first place?” Instead of just repeating today cheaper, faster, and better, first ask, “What should we be delivering?” Should we

32

30 Seconds That Can Change Your Life

work harder at a personal relationship? Even if it is with the wrong person? Again simple and powerful advice for all of us.

Evaluation is about improvement, not blaming. Fix the problem, don’t fix the blame. Most people dread being evalu- ated, and often for good reason because most people use the results of evaluation for blaming. Dumb. Evaluation should only attend to fixing and never to blame. When things go wrong, most people (especially politicians) want to assign the blame for what happened and don’t fix the problem. On a personal level, stop the blame, guilt, and anxiety. Stop. Learn from evaluation and decide what to change and what to keep. Remember, let’s fix problems and not fix the blame.

There are two “bottom lines” for every organization:

societal and conventional. Adding more bottom lines fragments the whole of societal value added. I know. All of the conventional business school dogma is about the basic driver of making a profit and adding value to shareholders: the quarterly Profit and Loss sheet. But doing so is not enough. You must also add value to our shared society as well. Remember previously profitable tires that ended up killing unsuspecting consumers? Remember profitable drugs that hurt people in the short run… but after terrific profits? Doing societal good and making money must not be mutually exclusive. After all, if you are not adding value to society, you are likely subtracting value. 15 Pay close attention to the aligning of both the conventional (quarterly profits) and societal bottom lines.

Making money and doing societal good must not be mutu- ally exclusive. For years it was assumed that the business of business was business: that businesses make money and gov- ernments look after people. No longer. If you—in your personal life—and your organization are not adding value to our shared society, then you will not be successful. Look at the wreckage

Chapter 2. The Five Keys for Successful Decisions

33

of people who only looked after themselves and, thus, pun- ished others. Look at organizations that boosted short-term profits only to go out (or be put out) of business. No, we want to be successful, and we must do it by adding value to all others.

Don’t be the best of the best, be the only one who does what you do (so said Grateful Dead band leader Jerry Garcia). Why copy anyone else? Why benchmark others? Do you know anyone or any organization you want to be just like? Doubtful. Be unique. Be the one and only and let other unthinking people benchmark you.

Ask, “If my organization is the solution, what’s the problem?” (Or ask, “If I am the solution, what’s the prob- lem?”). All organizations are simply means to societal ends. Make sure you are a solution to an important problem. Ask this question of your organization in order to focus on aligning what you use, do, produce, and deliver to adding societal value. And for interpersonal relations, ask, “If I am the solution to him/her, what’s the problem?” It will certainly focus you on adding value to others as well as yourself, and being able to prove it. This simple question puts ourselves (as well as our organi- zations) into a useful context. It allows us to take a hard and objective look at adding value to ourselves and others.

Continuing and Stable Realities That May Continue to Guide Us

Following are some realities that still withstand the “test of time” and can continue to guide our decisions. Which ones might you use?

We are what we do… and accomplish. This is a basic principle. What we decide to do delivers what happens to us. We are what we accomplish, or as the saying goes, “You reap what you sow.” Talk is cheap, actions bring results.

34

30 Seconds That Can Change Your Life

If we only set achievable objectives, we will forever be mired in yesterday. Some (including some of the so-called management experts) would say to never set objectives that we cannot achieve—don’t risk frustration by asking for more than we can deliver. This is pretty limiting thinking. If we only did what we knew we could deliver, there would be little worthwhile change. Most people thought putting a man on the moon was folly (and some jerks still think we faked it), that it was unobtainable and only setting ourselves up for disaster. They were wrong. Some thought runners would never run a four-minute mile. And some thought we could never eliminate polio or walk on the moon. While we naturally don’t set objectives for things that are obviously not achievable (such as jumping off of a building flapping our arms in an attempt to fly), we do routinely achieve more than is expected of us. 16 We are powerful and we are at our best when we stretch beyond what is normally expected. Trust yourself, and reach for success. Successful sports coaches define leadership as getting people to accomplish what they would not have accomplished on their own. Decide to push yourself beyond the expected and safe.

There is no fair wind for a rudderless ship. Without direction, no matter how much assistance, you will not get to someplace useful. Purpose and direction are vital. When deciding to change, have the end point in mind: Where do you want to go, and why? And while you are at it, make sure the end point adds value to you and all others.

The resistance to a new idea increases by the square of its importance. So said noted philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell. Have you ever noticed that people resist change, even when the idea is good? When people criticize, it usually means one of three things: they are right and you are wrong, you are very right and they are very scared, or they didn’t think of it first.

Chapter 2. The Five Keys for Successful Decisions

35

When you get resistance, be open to criticism, but reject objections that are not based on data, reality, and promise. Sometimes the hardest thing you can get someone to do is change. Be sure your new idea is useful and important, and later in the book there will be some advice and tools on how to get that assurance.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own data. Opinions are fine; they can open the door to mutual exploration. But opinions not based on data and reality are just about emotions. Be careful of naked opinions, for there is nothing more frightening than ignorance in action. Data, research results, and keen objective observations supply the basic information for making useful decisions. Opinion alone is likely to be bias and stereotypes in masquerade. Get the facts, not just opinions.

A problem doesn’t cease to exist simply because one chooses to ignore it. Have you ever known anyone who will not admit there is a problem? Many fatal heart attacks come from people choosing to ignore the deadly warnings. Do you know any smokers who think that smoking will not harm them? As the late Australian management consultant Phil Hanford noted, “What’s real is real.” Good advice.

Incrementalism is like pulling an impacted wisdom tooth slowly. Many people would warn “we must crawl before we walk.” We are also told to go slowly so that people can adjust— can get used to changing realities. When change is required, slowing down is not always good advice. Of course, we don’t want to rush into a solution before we know the problem as well as know that the problem is worth solving. But once we know change is required—based on data—then going slowly will likely increase the pain, not reduce it.

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30 Seconds That Can Change Your Life

We can be the masters of change or the victims of it. A Florida governor, once having passed some major social reform legislation, started getting resistance and foot dragging. He stated, “The train is leaving the station. You can get on the train, stay on the platform, or throw yourself under the train. But the train is leaving the station…” In life, things happen. We can react to change and wait to see what happens to us, or we can be the masters of change and create the change we want. Master or victim of change:

You decide.

Good ideas can fail for the wrong reasons. Good ideas don’t get successfully implemented simply because they are good; they also have to be supported by leaders and followers alike. Some people want to sabotage new ideas for change because they might sense a reduction in their own power and safety. Resistance can come from unusual places. Look first and always at who benefits from any changes before buying in to resistance or the change. Don’t forget, some change suggestions might really benefit all players. Resistance is part of the human landscape. One researcher observed that the change that doesn’t get resistance must indeed be trivial. 17 Look out for people who want to derail a new good idea. Figure out how to get them to join the adventure or figure out how to neutralize them. True friends help. Others don’t. Not everything changes, nor should everything change. Being a smart decision maker involves knowing what to change, what to keep, what to modify, and what to discard. All depends on our taking the risk to change in order to get different payoffs and different consequences. You decide. And you harvest the consequences of your decisions. Your decisions should be based on reality, not on “old news and ideas,” and on new realities, not old conventional and possibly just comfortable ones.

Chapter 2. The Five Keys for Successful Decisions

37

Endnotes

1. Past American Psychological Association president and psycho-

therapist, the late Ted Blau, defined “happiness” as freedom from

fear. And good decisions can get you toward happiness.

2. In my book Mega Planning, I documented organization after

organization that have run into hard times—or are heading that way— by being conventional, by playing “follow the leader,” or by not using these five key success factors. And more are lined up to blindly follow old paradigms on their way to conventional and dusty death, even in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, and Andersen. As of today, the people who said “all of the right things” but acted on personal greed are finding their ways to jail.

3. Mega is the label of planning and results that add measurable

value to external clients and society. This will be clearly defined and justified later.

4. These terms, Mega, Macro, Micro, as well as Outcomes, Outputs,

and Products, will be defined and justified later. They are about ends, and not means.

No, it is not just more jargon. Precision and accuracy are vital constituents in successful decision making. This is not from Alice in Wonderland where “words mean anything I want them to mean; nothing more and nothing less.”

5. Not all “conventional wisdom” is wrong or useless. As professor

Dale Brethower suggests (Personal Communication, July 20, 2005), we should be proud of the good it has provided us in the past, recognize the problems it might have also brought us, and be ready to change that which will bring us better payoffs.

6. This is based on proven performance improvement technology to

identify needs as gaps in results, not as gaps in wants or favored solutions.

7. A definition of “insanity” is doing the same thing over and over

again and expecting a different result.

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30 Seconds That Can Change Your Life

8. Sorry to keep using this compound “personal and organizational

success.” I suggest that these same principles can be used at work

as well as in life.

9. No kidding. It might seem to be trivial semantics, but it is not. It

focuses on the important distinction between the parts of a whole (systems) and the whole itself (a system). Changing paradigms to move from poor to good payoffs usually involves some discomfort. Please stay with us.

10. One’s partner may be very important, but your partner and you

are part of a relationship. And the relationship is part of your lives, and your lives are part of families, and families are part of neighborhoods or groups, and groups are part of society. Wholes are made up of parts.

11. This might have been called “world peace,” but that might seem

too esoteric and blue-sky for some. We don’t want anyone killed or maimed by others doing them ill.

12. This is shorthand for world marketplaces and commerce. As

author Tom Friedman points out (2005), the world is becoming economically flat, and the value added for all stakeholders is here— and growing. Your job is a part of what your organization delivers, and your organization is a part of domestic and likely international

payoffs and consequences.

13. Clark & Estes, 2002.

14. Management expert Tom Peters is among other thoughtful

people who suggest this.

15. My thanks to Dale Brethower, Professor Emeritus of Psychology

at Western Michigan University, for this insight. He has provided many for this book as well.

16. Again, don’t kid ourselves. We are better than most of us think we

are. We are capable of great and unexpected things. All of us.

17. Beals, R. L. (1968, December). Resistance and adaptation to

technological change: Some anthropological views. Human Factors.

Chapter 3

Don’t Confuse What with How (or Ends are Not the Same As Means)

Key Success Factor Two

Here is the second successful decision-making key—still working with the first template—that if you choose to apply will help you be successful:

Differentiate between ends (what) and means (how).

There is another part to this key success factor: Know where you are headed and how to tell when you have arrived. This is basic, as are all of the five. Each of the key success factors is useful by itself, and each works best when used with all of the others. Here they are (recall this is one of the three templates, or guides, for useful decisions) for review so that we keep them all in mind:

 

Five Key Success Factors for Making Successful Decisions: Becoming a Strategic Thinker*

1.

Don’t assume that what worked in the past will work now. Get out of your comfort zone and be open to change.

2.

Differentiate between ends (what) and means (how) and prepare all objectives to measure accomplishment.

3.

Use a wide-world view—an ideal vision (Mega) of what kind of world, in measurable performance terms, we want for all of us, including tomorrow’s child, as the underlying basis for planning, decision making, and continuous improvement.

4.

Use all three levels of planning and results (Mega/Outcomes; Macro/Outputs; Micro/Products) for decision making.

5.

Define “need” as a gap in results (not as insufficient levels of resources, means, or methods).

*In each chapter, these five key decision factors are provided with the major topic of that chapter in bold.

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30 Seconds That Can Change Your Life

Let’s explore why sorting out the differences (and relationships) between ends and means is so important for you. Means are ways, how-to-do-its, activities, resources, methods: actions and processes. Ends are the consequences of the means; they are results and payoffs. Means are only useful to the extent to which they deliver useful ends. The most sensible way of choosing a means is on the basis of the ends you want to accomplish. If you don't choose means on that basis, what do you have in mind? In our world, most people first select means—the solution, the how-to-do-its—and assume that useful ends will follow.

ENDS MEANS 1

assume that useful ends will follow. ENDS ≠ MEANS 1 and WHAT ≠ HOW The table

and

WHAT HOW

ends will follow. ENDS ≠ MEANS 1 and WHAT ≠ HOW The table on the next

The table on the next page shows some considerations we might encounter in everyday life. Select those that are means and those that are ends by marking an X in the appropriate column. What did you observe in this table? If you indicated all are means (activities or processes), then you are correct. None are ends. Means speak to “how” something is to be done, while ends focus on results and consequences. Notice how often we assume that a means will lead to an end. We assume that training will result in useful performance (in spite of the reported data of Clark and Estes that less than 10 percent of what is mastered in training ever finds its way on to the job!). We assume that managing will yield useful performance, but only effective results-reference managing will deliver that. We often confuse ends with means and what with how. This confusion can be destructive and expensive, both financially and personally.

Chapter 3. Don’t Confuse What with How

41

 

END

MEANS

(or What)

(or How)

Teaching

   

Learning

   

Pleasing

   

Training

   

Managing

   

Supervising

   

Dating

   

Talking

   

Helping

   

Planning

   

Thinking

   

Intending

   

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30 Seconds That Can Change Your Life

Let’s expand the list. Again, indicate with an X what you consider ends and means.

 

END

MEANS

(or What)

(or How)

Teaching

   

Learning

   

Pleasing

   

Mastery

   

Training

   

Managing

   

Competence

   

Supervising

   

Dating

   

Happiness

   

Talking

   

Helping

   

Survival

   

Planning

   

Self-sufficiency

   

Thinking

   

Intending

   

Positive self-esteem

   

Chapter 3. Don’t Confuse What with How

43

Let’s compare notes:

 

END

MEANS

(or What)

(or How)

Teaching

 

X

Learning

 

X

Pleasing

 

X

Mastery

X

 

Training

 

X

Managing

 

X

Competence

X

 

Supervising

 

X

Dating

 

X

Happiness

X

 

Talking

 

X

Helping

 

X

Survival

X

 

Planning

 

X

Self-sufficiency

X

 

Thinking

 

X

Intending

 

X

Positive self-esteem

X

 

See the difference between ends and means? It is vital. Ends are about results; means are about methods, activities, and resources. You use means to deliver valuable ends. In

44

30 Seconds That Can Change Your Life

making useful decisions, we should always—always—focus on the ends to be accomplished before we select the means—the how-to-do-its and resources. A tip: Just about every word in English that ends in an “ing” is a means (training, developing, planning, etc.).

Dealing with Conflict or Misunderstandings: Switching the Dialog from Means to Ends. Interpersonal conflict—argu- ments and misunderstandings—are often over means (money, time, attention, habits) and not ends (staying within budget, feelings of acceptance, clean sink). The next time you have a conflict with another person, change the conversation from means to ends and consequences. Instead of talking about how another person does something, focus on the results and consequences. Below is a typical conversation between two people living in the same house:

He:

You always leave your hair in the sink and your shoes lying around.

She:

That’s just the way I am. So what? What does it hurt?

He:

We both have our habits, but let’s decide on the results we want and think if we might change our ways if we agree on those results.

I’ll go first. I don’t want the sink clogging up every week and I don’t want to hurt my ankle ever again by tripping over shoes.

She:

Oh. So you’re not saying I’m selfish. Do I really leave that much hair in the sink? And is that why you had to put ice on your ankle last week?

He:

The maintenance crew showed me the long hairs they had to pull out, and yes, I did trip over your shoes in the dark. And it hurt. Will you consider taking a bit more care on these two things? Please?

Chapter 3. Don’t Confuse What with How

45

She:

I think what you want is reasonable and I know I can change my habits.

He:

Whew, thanks.

And below is a typical conversation between a manager and subordinate in the workplace:

Boss:

You are using the telephone too much. Cut back the time you are on that phone.

Associate:

I hear your concern.

Let’s agree on what you want me to accomplish and then I can see if staying off the phone is what I should do or if there is something else operating.

Boss:

What are you talking about?

Associate: My job is to schedule home repairs by the maintenance people working in our service department. We owe it to our customers to get the right work done, safely, on time, and within budget, right?

Boss:

Of course.

Associate: If I am spending too much time on the phone, it should show up in lower customer satisfaction, wasted time of the maintenance people, and going over budget. Let’s check the records and see.

(He gets the records from customer service.)

It seems that I am a bit more efficient and effec- tive than Shirley or Bob according to these records. Customers are satisfied, the mainte- nance people are working their shifts with no overtime, and no budgets for this have been busted. Do you agree?

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30 Seconds That Can Change Your Life

I see that your results are pretty good. So? What’s your point?

Associate: Using the phone is my means—how I go about my job and getting the required results. I suggest that since my results are okay, that indicates my time on the telephone is probably okay as well. I realize that it’s hard to see productivity while I’m on the phone, but I hope you agree that I am get- ting the results you want from me. And of course, I am aware that the phone is to be used only for business, and I respect that.

That seems reasonable. Thanks for the expla- nation.

If you are thinking of a continuing relationship (such as a potential partner or boss), sit down and write down the objectives—the results that both agree are desired—and then have a conversation about the means or how to get those results. What happens when we focus on means and processes rather than ends and results? Trouble, that’s what.

Boss:

Boss:

Losing Weight: A Case Study. Suppose we make the com- mitment to choose a new diet—one that allows us to eat all the fats and meats our little hearts desire. We launch the diet and for three days we are happy. The scale budges downward a bit, and we are delighted. We then keep going and the weight goes down some more. Hurray! After a week or so, we notice the scale moving up. Whoa. What is happening? It turns out that we had a few extra nibbles here and there, just a few things not on the diet. So what does that have to do with means and ends? Plenty. We chose the diet—a means—without being very clear about what results or ends the diet must bring. What ends are the focus of our diet?

Chapter 3. Don’t Confuse What with How

47

Instead of a focus and decision about being slim and gorgeous (or handsome) and being in good health, living a long time, and having a great life—ends—we jumped right into the solution: an attractive and likely faddish diet process. Wrong choice. What about exercise? Timing of meals? Portion control? We should first focus on the results we want, and then choose the means. We should not choose the diet before our commitment about the desired results of a solution called a diet.

In our day-to-day existence, we are faced with choices among ends and means. When we choose means on the basis of the ends we want to accomplish, we have better success.

Elinor Gets a Work Assignment. Elinor’s job seemed pretty good. Some days were better than others, but with her university degrees, she was ready to tackle some solid work and make solid contributions. She wanted to move ahead, but also wanted to balance work with personal life. Her supervisor told Elinor that Human Resources wanted a training program right away. It was to be on core values of associates working in her bank. Focused work teams derived these core values over the past seven months, and the bank wanted everyone—everyone—trained on these core values. Elinor sat down with the leadership group that developed the core values and that was put in charge of designing the training, and talked with them about the content of the course and why they thought it was important. She read the list that was developed with serious dedication and it looked familiar. So familiar in fact that she checked with the core values of the computer manufacturing company she had worked with previously and found they were almost identical—a different word here and there, but it basically was the same list of core values. Interesting. Hmmm. The team checked online with a competing bank for their core values and they too were almost identical. She was getting the picture. Core values were almost the same for all organizations: 2 All lists called for almost identical behaviors

48

30 Seconds That Can Change Your Life

and commitments, including ethical behavior, respect for others, diversity, honesty, earnest motivation, considerate behavior, and quality-focused. Elinor pondered, “So why a training program?” If training is the solution, what’s the problem? If training is successful, what results will that deliver? The sponsors responded with: because everyone in the bank must have these core values. Elinor answered, “Why don’t you simply make sure that Human Resources uses these core values as hiring criteria and that supervisors use them for mentoring and rewards, and we can save all the costs of train- ing?” It took some discussion, but it was agreed that the “means” of training were not what was wanted but rather the “ends” of everyone demonstrating the core values on the job. Means, such as training, are often assumed to deliver worthy ends. That link is not automatic. First define the ends desired and required, then select the best means for getting the ends accomplished, like Elinor did.

Politicians and Confusion of Ends and Means. Watch what the politicians—public or those in your own life—do and say. They will tell you about means (such as more funding, better facilities, increased benefits, changes to social security, no changes to social security) and try to get you to assume useful ends (such as longer life, lower accidents and injuries, safe retirement, etc.) and hope you elect them and support them with the promise of means. Get them to define the ends that their suggested means will deliver and watch them mumble. When you ask them for their measurable criteria for success they scatter.

Everything Is Measurable

For some people, that statement might be taking things too far. Everything measurable? Yes indeed. Even though our common language talks about things being intangible, or ethereal, or insubstantial, or just plain not measurable, the truth is that they are, and on a mathematical

Chapter 3. Don’t Confuse What with How

49

scale of measurement. 3 In fact, if you can name it, it is measurable. If you can’t name it, then what is it? The scale of measurement for naming is termed nominal scale measurement. 4 The next most reliable scale of measurement is called ordinal scale measurement. This type is used in judging art (first, second, third prize) and judging livestock. It simply ranks things in terms of greater-than, less-than, or equal. 5 Next in reliability is the interval scale, and it is the one most of us think of when we hear “measurable.” But it is only one type of measurement out of four possibilities. When we have equal scale distances (such as the difference between 4 and 5 degrees) and an arbitrary zero point (temperature reported from the airport), we have measurement on an interval scale. 6 We use this type of measurement in educational results reporting and social statistics. The last scale of measurement is the ratio scale and is defined as when we have equal scale distances (such as the difference between 4 and 5 degrees) and a known zero point such as temperature in Kelvin where matter stops moving, or in distance, or in weight. 7, 8 So why all this fuss about measurability? Because it is vital. We must set objectives in measurable performance terms (where are we headed and how will we know when we have arrived?). And everything is measurable, so don’t let anyone, including yourself, get away with the excuse that something is just not measurable. It will allow us to be accountable for the success we choose, and it will allow us to check our progress realistically. This also allows us to see that there is taxonomy— hierarchy—of results and the names for each:

50

30 Seconds That Can Change Your Life

Name of

Name

 

Scale of

of

 

Example: Ed

Measurement

Purpose

 

Nominal

Goal

Be neat.

Ordinal

Goal

I

agree to pick up my things

more than I have previously.

Interval

Objective

will leave at least 50 percent fewer things lying around, and we will check this every Saturday.

I

Ratio

Objective

I

will leave nothing lying around

in the bedroom, and you will let me know if I have met our requirements of zero problems.

A goal states where you are headed (improve my love life, get a better job, etc.). When Ed says he will improve his neatness, then that is a goal. It states where he is headed—the results he intends—but it isn’t precise enough for all to really be able to measure whether he is actually neater or not. It is intentional and says generally where his behavior is headed, but is unclear about criteria for accomplishment. When Ed says I will leave nothing lying around—no pants, socks, underwear, shirts, or shoes—and you will confirm that, then he is saying both where he is headed and how both par- ties can tell when the objectives have (or have not) been accomplished—no stuff lying around where they should not be. Nothing. Zero. At work, when Ed says I will be more punctual, we know he intends to be on time, but there are no real criteria to measure the extent to which he has converted his intentions to accomplishments. When Ed adds and there will be zero tardiness on my time cards, then he has made this intention

Chapter 3. Don’t Confuse What with How

51

into an objective: He has stated where he is headed and how to tell when he has arrived. An objective states both where you are headed as well as how to measure when you have arrived (for example, marry my soul mate within one year, within two years get a new job that earns at least 23 percent more than my current job). The more you can state your purpose in interval or ratio scale terms, the more likely you are to be able to make useful decisions on how to get from here to there, and check your progress. Does this rigor really make a difference? Does it make any sense to go to all of this trouble? You bet, at least if you want to get beyond mediocrity. If you care enough about the conse- quences of a decision, then care enough to make sure you set your objectives in hard, objective, and measurable terms. If you don’t, guess what risk you are taking.

A Guide to Aligning Ends and Means (and What with How)

Getting ends and means distinguished and then related is quite straightforward. Each time anything is presented to you, ask:

“If this were successful, what would the result be?”

And then, with the answer to that, again:

“If this were successful, what would the result be?”

By repeating this question over and over again, you will:

1. Define the ends that any means (or resource) will deliver, and

2. Define the payoffs and consequences that any means and resource will deliver, and thus

3. Determine if it is worth doing.

Let's see.

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30 Seconds That Can Change Your Life

Q:

If training on core values is successful, what will the result of that be?

A:

Everyone would work better, both individually and together.

Q:

If everyone worked better individually and together, what would the result of that be?

A:

We would have a happier workforce—less conflict and more teamwork.

Q:

And if we had a happier workforce with less conflict and better teamwork, what would the result of that be?

A:

Greater productivity.

Q:

What would be the result of greater productivity?

A:

Higher profits for the bank and greater customer satisfaction.

Q:

And the result of that?

A:

Financial safety and growth of assets for our customers and job security for our staff.

During this dialog, there was a definition and justification for everyone acting on the basis of the core values. The results that were defined opened the door for another type of means, one other than training. It opened the door for seeing if there were more efficient and effective ways of getting good results (such as at least 10 percent higher profits each year for at least ten years; zero clients default on loans; etc.). It turned out that instead of the expense of training everyone, new hiring, supervising, and reward structures were cheaper and likely a lot better.

Another Example from Everyday Life. We could apply the same “chain of ‘why’ and ‘so what’ questions” to any situation, including personal ones. If a dieter was asked, “What would be the effect of choosing the diet you have selected?” he or she would probably answer, “To lose weight.”

Chapter 3. Don’t Confuse What with How

53

And asked why one wanted to lose weight, then the chain of considerations would lead to “be healthy and attractive.” That in turn would open up the consideration of alternative ways and means to get from the current appearance and health to the desired ones—alternative ways and means that would likely find a balance of exercise and sensible diet and changing one's eating and exercise habits and continuing them over time. Not just a quick-fix diet scheme. Sorting out the differences between ends and means and then relating them is a proven way to make useful decisions. Mediocrity comes from selecting means without linking them to worthy ends. Simply make sure that your decisions are based on ends and further that the ends you decide upon will deliver the payoffs you desire.

How to Prepare Useful Objectives

As performance improvement pro Bob Mager tells us, “If you don’t know where you are headed you might end up someplace else.” It is important for your decision making to precisely state:

Where you are headed, and

How to tell when you have arrived.

Sensible, isn’t it? But not many people take the time or risk 9 to state these. There are ends to be accomplished plus the criteria to measure your accomplishment.

What a Useful Objective States. Any objective that is useful simply states:

Where you are headed, and

How to tell when you have arrived.

If an objective doesn’t have both these elements, you are on your way to “getting to someplace else.” Here is some more detail about writing objectives, be they personal or organizational:

State in measurable terms where you are headed.

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30 Seconds That Can Change Your Life

Identify who or what will demonstrate the accomplish- ment of that. (Note that any objective NEVER NEVER states how you will reach the desired end nor NEVER NEVER states what resources are to be used.)

State the conditions (time, place, environment, etc.) under which the accomplishment will be observed.

Provide the exact criteria—ideally in interval or ratio scale terms—of how you know when you have arrived.

Objectives are about ends and accomplishments; means are about how best to get the ends delivered. Again, sort out the differences between ends and means, and between what and how. Objectives provide you the sign posts along the way as you change from your current behaviors and payoffs to the desired ones. Precise. Rigorous. Measurable. Practical. Useful. Care enough about creating your future and decide to write precise objectives for yourself, and sort out means from ends. For example:

I will have zero unexcused tardinesses or absences for the next year.

I will have good or better personal health as documented by my physician each year.

Simple and powerful.

Chapter 3. Don’t Confuse What with How

55

Endnotes

1. Also, Hope Reality nor Money Spent Useful Results. Think

about it—these are notorious cases of confusing ends and means.

2. This seems to be true; it is difficult to differentiate among

organizations in terms of their statements of core values. Check it out yourself.

3. S. S. Stevens in 1951 wrote that there were four scales of

measurement. His formulation is the basis of this section on “Everything Is Measurable.”

4. There are statistics for nominal scale results: Chi Square.

5. A static for this is rank order correlation.

6. A statistic for this includes means and standard deviations, and

tools such as analysis of variance.

7. Or our bank account as this is being written. By the way, my wife

tells me she is not overdrawn, but I am simply under-deposited. She is likely correct.

8. Statistics for this are the same as for interval scale data.

9. Yes, risk. If you state exactly where you are headed, there is

accountability to that, and you might not want to be accountable for delivering the results and consequences you commit to deliver. Yet,

results are there, whether you define them or someone else does it for (or to) you. A fact doesn’t cease to exist simply because you chose to ignore it.

Chapter 4

Practical Dreaming: An Imperative Focus for Everything You Use, Do, Produce, and Deliver

All of us live in a shared world. This shared world is a huge system where all the parts work independently and together. What a coal plant in Australia discharges into the air has global effects. What happens to a rain forest in Brazil has implications for us all. What you do in a personal relationship has conse- quences beyond yourself. Now we will deal with a vital consideration in successful decisions—a major shift in paradigms, a major difference in our field of vision, or world of concern. We are going to think really big; we are going to think globally before we act locally. This new focus for everything we use, do, produce, and deliver is highlighted in this first guide. Like the others, this is basic for building our skills, knowledges, and abilities for those critical and life-changing 30 seconds:

 

Five Key Success Factors for Making Successful Decisions: Becoming a Strategic Thinker*

1.

Don’t assume that what worked in the past will work now. Get out of your comfort zone and be open to change.

2.

Differentiate between ends (what) and means (how) and prepare all objectives to measure accomplishment.

3.

Use a wide-world view—an ideal vision (Mega) of what kind of world, in measurable performance terms, we want for all of us, including tomorrow’s child, as the underlying basis for planning, decision making, and continuous improvement.

4.

Use all three levels of planning and results (Mega/Outcomes; Macro/Outputs; Micro/Products) for decision making.

5.

Define “need” as a gap in results (not as insufficient levels of resources, means, or methods).

*In each chapter, these five key decision factors are provided with the major topic of that chapter in bold.

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Again, you might be testing your real commitment to the first key factor: don’t rely on what others think, do, or use, and move out of your comfort zone of conventional wisdom. It will be worth it. This also builds on the second key factor concerning ends and means. What we use, do, produce, and deliver has impacts beyond us—often far beyond ourselves. In a holistic view (and can we afford anything smaller?), we focus beyond our day-to-day immediate concerns. We must focus first on the world in which we live, in which all of us live. Let’s see.

We often hear about environmentalists, conservationists, “greenies,” and “tree huggers” who want to save the planet. They are not all wrong. The planet is a tender sphere. Often, so are our personal relationships. So it is vital that we plan at each and every level of what we:

Use

↓

Do

↓

Produce

↓

Deliver

↓

The Resulting External Impact

This chapter is about this last item in our decision-making value chain: external impact—impact upon Mega. It is practical dreaming because it gives us a vital-yet-practical focus that allows us to align with adding value to ourselves and all others. We will, in the next chapter, deal with the importance of aligning everything we use, do, produce, and deliver with external impact. This alignment with a focus on societal value added is called Mega. Doing so better ensures that we will add value to our shared world: to our world, our friends, neighbors,

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and others occupying planet Earth. We have to align everything with our external partners in our shared world. This focus is invariably missing from almost all of the “big” strategic thinking and planning models and approaches. It is also always missing from personal guidance and help books. But does it not make sense to align everything we use, do, pro- duce, and deliver on adding value for ourselves and others in our external world—the world in which we all live? This Mega focus—adding measurable value to external partners, clients, and society—is a critical missing link in problem solving and decision making. Ignoring societal value added is the perfect prescription for mediocrity. Complex chain? Sure is. But all the elements are vital. And they must be linked and aligned if we are to make useful deci- sions.

Mega Thinking and Planning—Vital

Mega is the level of thinking and planning where the primary client of everything we use, do, produce, and deliver is society—society now and in the future. Mega defines an ideal vision—a “practical dream”—that is a measurable statement of the kind of world we, together with others, want to create for tomorrow’s child. Interestingly, Mega and an Ideal Vision are the same for all organizations in all societies. Really. 1 Mega planning starts and stops with society. There is a very tangible world outside of ourselves, our organizations, and our immediate communities. Adding value to all is both chal- lenging and very, very practical. This is a short and incomplete definition of Mega. The complete one is in the Appendix to this chapter.

Key Success Factor Three:

Mega and the Ideal Vision

The third of the five key decision-making guides is to focus everything you use, do, produce, and deliver on adding measurable value to external clients and society:

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30 Seconds That Can Change Your Life

Use a wide-world view—an ideal vision (Mega) of what kind of world, in measurable performance terms, we want for all of us, including tomorrow’s child, as the underlying basis for planning, decision making, and continuous improvement.

Let's look at Mega: what it is and why it is vital for you to focus on in your decision making. 2

Mega. The Mega level of planning and decision making is centered on the kind of world we want to help create for tomorrow’s child: no one will be under the care, custody, or control of another person, agency, or substance. Each person will earn at least as much as it takes for them to survive unless they are moving toward being self-sufficient and self-reliant. The unfortunate and unlucky among us will be supported only as long as they are moving toward self-sufficiency. An indicator of self-sufficiency is that, for each person minimally, their consumption will be equal to or less than their production:

C

P

where C = Consumption and P = Production.

A metric for this is money (such as €, £, ¥, $, or other cur-

rencies): C is anything you spend money for and P is anything you get money for.

A bit crass? Not really. Money or other tokens of exchange

(such as shells, beads, precious metals, or jewels) are used and understood in every culture. Additionally, people put money (or their tokens of value exchange) toward what they find important. And what might be more important than every- one surviving and being (or becoming) self-sufficient and self- reliant. Either we are moving toward Mega or not. What we use, do, produce, and deliver has measurable impact on that shared destination. In reality, the ideal vision and Mega are really practical dreaming: 3 dreaming because we intend to create a better

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future for ourselves and others (move from what is to what could be) and practical because we all really rely on the good intentions and the worthy actions of each other. Making money and living our own personal lives must not be mutually exclu- sive from adding value to our shared world. How about some examples—just a few—of Mega or practical dreaming:

Nothing I use, do, or produce will bring any physical harm to others. (For example when I operate a car, I will not do permanent damage to others, and at my work, I will not produce anything that will physically harm another person.)

My relationships with others will make them safe and happy, and improve their quality of life.

In my work and in my home, I will not pollute and thus permanently degrade or make non-renewable our shared environment.

Some Possible Implications for Personal Decisions. You go to meet a friend at a corner coffee shop. She tells you that she

is very tight for money—very tight. She doesn't have the money

to pay her rent this month and she is desperate. She asks if you will loan her some money, and you tell her quite frankly that you are close to the same situation and don't have any- thing to provide. She thinks for a moment. “I know you manage the emergency health support fund at the office. How about taking out a loan for a month and then we can pay it back as soon as I get some money that is coming in? Nobody will require that money. They haven’t dipped into that fund in three years, so it would be safe.” She is a very good friend. What to do? You know what she’s suggesting is illegal and even unethical. It isn’t your

money, but your friend is in trouble. You also know that there is

a very slight probability that the fund would have to be used for someone’s survival—someone in deep trouble. But that is just

a slight probability.

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All you have to do to decide is ask, “Will my temporarily taking money from the fund take all of us closer or further away from Mega?” Easy, isn’t it? No one but your friend would have any benefit (and that is doubtful since it might be like giving a drug addict one more “hit” to get them to quit), and it is possible that the missing funds might have a very negative impact on the health, survival, and well-being of someone else.

An Example from the World of Work. Suppose the scene shifts, and you are working for an organization that is develop- ing training programs for a defense contractor. Your supervisor tells you that the materials have to be delivered Monday. You know that the complete data on operational safety is not yet available. Your supervisor says, “A deadline is a deadline!” You make your case and it is rejected. What do you do? Send the materials that might endanger lives or go over the head of your supervisor as far as you have to in order to make sure safety will be ensured? This is a tough decision for many. They don’t want to lose their jobs and get in trouble with the boss, and after all, you were told to do it. On the other hand, safety might be sacrificed. By asking “Will this take us closer or further away from Mega?” the decision becomes clear: Don't deliver it incomplete. This is a risky choice, but there is more risk if there were safety problems—even deaths or disabilities—and it got tracked back to you, which it probably would for the supervisor would proba- bly lose all memory. Several options—means or processes—can be consid- ered:

1. Tell the supervisor to send it in with his or her signa- ture.

2. Ask your supervisor to go above both of you and dis- cuss the problem and implications. If this is refused, tell the supervisor that you would like her to sign a release.

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4. Refuse to send in the materials in their current form and let the supervisor take whatever action he feels is required.

5. Quit.

These are tough choices. It is easier to go along, but that takes everyone further away from Mega. While these choices are initially tougher, in the medium run, everyone will benefit. One pushback that is often offered is “Why should we focus on Mega when no one else does?” And as a companion to such a pushback is “What I do won’t make any difference; I’m just one voice drowned out in all of the others.” First of all, more and more organizations are finding that a focus on Mega is both practical and ethical. It is slow, but it is happening. Second, if you don’t focus on Mega—even if you feel lonely— what about the ethics of your decision? Mega is both practical and ethical. We often just don’t recognize how much we already work within the “social contract” where we commit to do no harm to ourselves and others. Criminals, self-seeking people, thugs, and terrorists have no use for the social contract or Mega. That must and will change. Mega level results—societal added results and consequences—are outside of you, your family, and social circle, as well as your organization. Starting with that societal focus will best ensure that your en-route decisions will add value up the value chain.

The Ideal Vision: Mega

Much of current thinking and advice talks about visioning:

defining what you want to create. In short-sighted versions of visioning, a suggested method is to write a vision for yourself or just for your organization. Not a good idea. Doing so will likely isolate you and your decisions from the external reality of society: It is conventional, comfortable, and counterproductive. An ideal vision states what tomorrow’s society looks like in measurable performance terms. Thus, the ideal vision is the

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same for all people and for all organizations. All of us are means to societal ends (ever wonder what your place in the world is?) by adding value to each other and our shared world. By adopting the ideal vision, we simply decide what pieces and parts of it we commit to contributing. If we are not adding value to our shared world—to the ideal vision—what do we have in mind? Subtracting value? Using the ideal vision for our decision making gives us ori- entation and context for everything we use, do, produce, and accomplish. It is a commitment to a social contract where we do no harm to ourselves and others. Focusing on Mega and using the ideal vision is simple and practical. It is a vehicle that will move you away from medioc- rity. It is, however, contrary to accepted current practice (and old paradigm thinking). It won’t be for long.

Mega Thinking and Planning Applied to Your Personal Life as well as to Organizations. Adding value to our shared soci-

ety is practical, realistic, and vital. Increasingly, even conven- tional business is realizing that making money and doing societal good must not be mutually exclusive. It is not yet the norm, but it is evolving. Adding value to others is not just for organization, it is for each and all of us.

In daily life, act to add value to those around you as well as

to yourself. It will not only provide the role model for others

based on your behavior, it will also bring rewards, both per- sonal and external, back to you. If you are not adding value to others, you are likely subtracting value from them. You decide. 4 Consider any decision you make in your life. Will it take you closer or further away from useful outcomes? Simple, quick, and very helpful: Will this take us closer or further away from Mega?

If you are objective, this question and the answers will be invaluable in making useful decisions.

A primary focus on Mega is both practical and ethical. We

all depend on others focusing on Mega when they deal with us; do we owe others any less? 5

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65

Appendix to Chapter 4

Our commitment to you was not to take the dialog to a more complex level that most would find useful. So this appendix provides some greater detail to this focus—system focus— called Mega. It is the basis for an ideal vision that defines the kind of world we want to help create; create for ourselves and tomorrow’s child. You have already reviewed the short version that provides

a quick decision guide: Will what I decide and do take me closer or further away from Mega? For those who want more detail, following is a comprehen- sive definition of Mega: the planning and thinking level where the primary client and beneficiary is society now and in the future.

Comprehensive Definition of Mega. On the following page is

a further definition of Mega. As you review the definition, note

that you are already working at the Mega level. It is provided as

a checklist using the elements of Mega—of the ideal vision. Look this list over and identify if you (and/or your organiza- tion) are making a direct contribution to each element or mak- ing a contribution in partnership with others. Without formally recognizing the fact, all organizations impact external clients and society. For each of the basic com- ponents of an ideal vision, check if you and/or your organiza- tion currently make a contribution to that element and thus to the ideal vision. 6

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MAKES A CONTRIBUTION

Direct

Indirect or

with Others

None

Basic Ideal Vision Elements: There will be no losses of life nor elimination or reduction of levels of well-being, survival, self-sufficiency, and quality of life from any source, including (but not limited to):

War and/or riot and/or terrorism

Unintended human-caused changes to the environment, including permanent destruction of the environment and/or rendering it non-renewable

Murder, rape, or crimes of violence, robbery, or destruction to property

Substance abuse

Disease

(continued)

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67

Basic Ideal Vision Elements

MAKES A CONTRIBUTION

Direct

Indirect or

with Others

None

Starvation and/or malnutrition

Destructive behavior (abuse) of child, partner, spouse, self, elder, and others

Accidents, including transportation, home, and business/workplace

Discrimination based on irrelevant variables including color, race, creed, sex, religion, national origin, age, location

Poverty will not exist, and every woman and man will earn at least as much as it costs them to live unless they are progressing toward being self-sufficient and self-reliant.

(continued)

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Basic Ideal Vision Elements

No adult will be under the care, custody, or control of another person, agency, or substance: all adult citizens will be self-sufficient and self-reliant as minimally indicated by their consumption being equal to or less than their production.

Consequences of the Basic Ideal Vision: Any and all organizations—public and private—will contribute to the achievement and maintenance of this basic ideal vision and will be funded and continued to the extent to which it meets its objectives and the basic ideal vision is accomplished and maintained. People will be responsible for what they use, do, and contribute and thus will not contribute to the reduction of any of the results identified in this basic ideal vision.

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69

If you recycle; if you prevent murder, rape, and robbery; if you are a “good neighbor” personally or organizationally; you are already working to deliver results and consequences at the Mega level. Most people don’t realize the extent to which they can add or subtract value to our shared world. Think and act Mega in your personal as well as your work lives.

Endnotes

1. We have taken the initiative to ask people from almost around the

globe to define the kind of world they want for tomorrow’s child. Except for the extremists (who have a means in central focus and pretend that is the end), all agree on this definition. It is stable and universal. This definition of an ideal vision is not imposed, but rather derived and defined by our neighbors far and wide; it is based on consensus, not on arbitrary power. Some people viewing the indicators are initially put off by the criteria for Mega being negative. I don’t like it either, but my attempts and challenges to others to come up with some rigorous positive criteria for Mega all have fallen short. As Professor Dale Brethower notes, “If you care, get the facts.” And the facts of societal impact and

consequences are all in terms of deviations; we keep score in our society in terms of breakdowns. Just look at daily crime and environmental reports. Keep track for yourself. You can tell when you are adding value to our shared world.

2. In the Appendix to this chapter (pages 65–68), there is a more

detailed definition of Mega and the ideal vision. Please consider it.

3. This is a term I am re-introducing from earlier writings. It was

seen as useful enough for management expert Wess Roberts to use,

with attribution, in his important work.

4. It is interesting that Mega thinking and doing is ethical. It is not

only practical to add value to others, but it is also the ethical thing to do. And being ethical—thinking and acting Mega—is also the safest and most practical way to act.

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5. I have been urging Mega for some time. It has been lonely, but

the concept of personal and organizational responsibility for adding societal value is recently getting increased support. My first published plea for a primary focus on societal value added was Kaufman, R. A., Corrigan, R. E., & Johnson, D. W. (1969). Toward educational responsiveness to society’s needs: A tentative utility model. Journal of Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, 3: 151–157. The article by the world-wide practice director for McKinsey and Company that urges societal corporate responsibility is Davis, I. (2005, May 26). The biggest contract. The Economist, London: May 28, 2005. Vol. 375, Issue 8428, p. 87.

6. Consider these as more than just individual isolated variables.

Rather, see them as forming a fabric where parts interweave. This is based on Kaufman, 1998 and 2000.

Chapter 5

Aligning Results and Consequences:

The Decision Success Model Story

Every decision we make now has later consequences. And sometimes the consequences are different from what we expected or assumed they would be. It is important to align our planning and actions with desired future payoffs. Our decisions should deliver the future we want. Let’s see how to relate your decisions to future consequences.

Key Success Factor Four

This key factor is about aligning your decisions with larger con- sequences. Planning for future consequences and payoffs is central to move from mediocrity to success:

Use

all

three

levels

of

planning

and

results

(Mega/

Outcomes;

Macro/Outputs;

Micro/Products)

for

decision

making.

 

There is a value chain that links everything we use, do, produce, and deliver to results and consequences outside of ourselves: our organizations (and families), society, and the communities in which we all live. This still might seem to be a stretch, but please stay with it. Let’s start defining and aligning the piece of this value chain that will provide you the pathway and tools for successful decisions. The “big five” key success factors for making successful decisions from the first template are shown in the table on the next page.

Linking the Now and the Future

Have you ever made a decision, perhaps an important one, and later found out that it led to unexpected or bad conse- quences? For example, making a commitment to buy a car that turned out to fail inspection or have bad brakes that caused you to have an accident?

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Five Key Success Factors for Making Successful Decisions: Becoming a Strategic Thinker*

1.

Don’t assume that what worked in the past will work now. Get out of your comfort zone and be open to change.

2.

Differentiate between ends (what) and means (how) and pre- pare all objectives to measure accomplishment.

3.

Use a wide-world view—an ideal vision (Mega) of what kind of world, in measurable performance terms, we want for all of us, including tomorrow’s child, as the underlying basis for planning, decision making, and continuous improvement.

4.

Use all three levels of planning and results (Mega/ Outcomes; Macro/Outputs; Micro/Products) for decision making.

5.

Define “need” as a gap in results (not as insufficient levels of resources, means, or methods).

*In each chapter, these five key decision factors are provided with the major topic of that chapter in bold.

No one can count on luck all the time. And it seems as if predicting the future is difficult at best. So let's take Peter Drucker’s advice: If you can’t predict the future, create it. A few years ago, there was a TV ad with a grubby mechanic—grease smeared on his face, sporting a five-day growth of beard, stained hat, cigar nested in the corner of his mouth—holding an oil filter. He says, “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.” Good advice. An oil filter is a lot cheaper than an engine overhaul. And so it is in life. Paraphrasing an old axiom: an ounce of sensible planning is worth a pound of mediocrity. So here is how to create your future.

Critical Statements That Must Be Formally Presented and Responded to—Aligning Today and Tomorrow. 1 Planning for the future is indeed inconvenient. It is much easier (and often more fun) to act on the spur of the moment, to be sponta- neous, and to “let the chips fall where they may.” Doing that is

Chapter 5. Aligning Results and Consequences

73

fine if you don’t care about the consequences of your deci- sions. For example, we might (with some trepidation) throw caution to the wind and ride a roller coaster (which in our gut we know is safe) or take a first airplane trip (also known to be much safer than travel by automobile). These are not decisions that will likely shape our lives, our jobs, or our relationships. Most other decisions do have future implications. Making those decisions are best done with a keen and objective eye on the future we want to create. Now we’ll discuss the second of the three templates, or guides, for decision making.

Template Number Two: The DSM

The Decision Success Model (DSM) below has basic state- ments that must be stated in rigorous, measurable, and per- formance terms, if we are to continue our trip from mediocrity to success:

Decision Success Model (DSM)

1. I commit to add value to our shared world and community.

2. I commit to add value to my organization and/or family.

3. I commit to add value to my immediate associates at work (and/or close friends).

4. I commit to select and use efficient tools, methods, and means to accomplish the above (1, 2, and 3).

5. I commit to select useful resources—including physical, financial, and human—to get the results identified above (1, 2, and 3).

6. I commit to evaluate the results I get and use that data to continuously improve what I use, do, pro- duce, and deliver, including the impact and consequences of the results.

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All of these statements and levels of thinking, planning, and decision making are all equally important. Each is critical. Each must be aligned and linked to all others. Review them again, and ask which one (or more) you think you can afford not to address formally, measurably, and rigorously. If you “fake” one or more, if you omit the formal considera- tion of any one, the whole chain of results starts fragmenting. Please notice that DSM statements 1, 2, and 3 relate to ends. DSM statements 4 and 5 are about means (including resources). The differences-yet-relations between ends and means that we first provided in Chapter 3 resurface!

Aligning What We Use, Do, Produce, and Deliver. The first three DSM statements relate to three levels of planning and three levels of results. Let’s take a look at these and introduce some new terms:

1. I commit to add value to our shared world and community. This commitment focuses on our shared world—the place we all live. Society. This level of planning is called Mega.

2. I commit to add value to my organization and/or family. This commitment focuses on your social circle or large group, such as family or the organization for which you work. This level of planning is called Macro.

3. I commit to add value to my immediate associates at work (as well as close friends). This commitment focuses on individuals, such as you, significant others, and co-workers. This level of planning is called Micro.

Some of the words sound a bit strange? Let’s make sure we agree on what each means:

Add value: Value is what accomplishes something that is both useful and what we want. Value, as used here, is not about price, but about impact that is worthwhile. When we commit to add value to our shared world and community, that might mean

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75

that we will make a contribution to safety, health, and well- being and at least not harm others. Adding value is about posi- tive consequences.

Shared world and community: We all live among others. We live in an apartment complex, a neighborhood, a community, a society, a country, a world. We share those. If we don’t add to the survival and self-sufficiency of ourselves and others, we might be subtracting value. We all should be—and depend on—being good neighbors.

Commit: This simply means that we will do and deliver as we agreed; we do what we say we will do and deliver.

Organization: This is any formal group—such as a company, government agency, social club, or political party—or a family or living unit.

Formally: This means doing it precisely, measurably, and rigorously—none of the not-quite-measurable objectives stuff. This is for real. Recall in Chapter 3 we reviewed why everything is measurable and why it is vital to be precise, rigorous, and measurable.

Getting beyond mediocrity requires us to think and act with sharp purpose and rigor. Let’s care enough about our future to be precise about defining and achieving it. When we plan, we plan for defining and delivering useful results. We plan so that our decisions can add value to our- selves and others. Here is a framework for relating planning and useful results, along with the labels for your decision- making toolkit: lots of words, lots of labels. Of course, they wouldn’t be here if they were not important—troublesome at first perhaps, but important.

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Levels of Planning and Related Levels of Results 2

Label

DSM

Planning

Examples

Statement

Level

Improve

6

Evaluation &

Find out what works and what doesn’t and make appropriate changes; learn from experi- ence, etc.

Continual

Improvement

Use

5

Inputs

Friends, associates, staff, finances, equipment, buildings, laws, existing ways and means of doing things, etc.

Do

4

Processes

Activities, doing, means, methods, teaming, meeting, developing, trying, applying, etc.

Produce

3

Micro

Building-block results: course completed, meet with some- one, software that meets standards, report completed, fender, handbook, etc.

Deliver

2

Macro

What we deliver outside of ourselves: completed report, college degree, marriage, delivered service, delivered medicine, discharge from hospital, graduation, etc.

External

1

Mega

Continued health and well- being, safety of people and things, continued happiness, continued success, no fatali- ties, no killings, no species go unnaturally extinct, etc.

Impact

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77

Here are a set of direction-finding questions to help you set and agree on the directions you and your organization will move and deliver.

Finding Direction: Decision-Making Success (DSM) Factors

Questions All Individuals and Organizations Must Ask and Answer

Do You Commit:

Yes

No

Do you commit to deliver personal and/or organ- izational contributions that add value for your family, friends, external associates, citizens, and clients (including society)? (MEGA)

   

Do you commit to deliver personal and/or organ- izational contributions that have the quality required by your external partners? (MACRO)

   

Do you commit to produce internal results that have the quality required by your internal partners? (MICRO)

   

Do you commit to have efficient internal products, programs, projects, and activities? (PROCESSES)

   

Do you commit to create and ensure the quality and appropriateness of the human, capital, and physical resources available? (INPUTS)

   

And not part of proactive planning but the “engine” of continuous improvement is this question:

   

Do you commit to deliver results, activities, meth- ods, and procedures that have positive value and worth defined by your objectives? (Evaluation and Continuous Improvement)

These form the Decision-Making Success (DMS) Factors. Each of these factors must be precisely dealt with and defined, as well as aligned.

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Which ones of these do you think you and your associates (personal and/or organizational) can afford not to deal with formally, rigorously, measurably, and precisely (ideally on an interval or ratio scale)? Which ones are you not now currently dealing with formally, rigorously, measurably, and precisely? The answers to these questions should provide you with a good blueprint for changing how you make decisions and the data you collect to do so. 3 The Mega focus that we defined in Chapter 4 is a primary and unique feature of this suggested approach to success— success in your life and making a contribution to your friends, associates, organization, and society. The decision aid is quite basic: Will what I decide and do bring me closer or further away from Mega.

Mega, Society, Community, You, and Success

Perhaps the most initially uncomfortable consideration we provide is Mega. Why is that so important? Do we really have to formally and rigorously include that consideration in our decision making? Why can’t I look after me and let everyone else (or the government) look after others? If we don’t intend to add value personally and organization- ally to our shared society, our shared world (including our family and friends), what do we have in mind? Do we intend to subtract value from our shared world? Do we state indifference or powerlessness? Victimhood? Do we want others to act with- out regard to us? This takes us back to the first key decision-making success factor for useful decisions: Don’t assume that what worked in the past will work now. Get out of your comfort zone and be open to change. Because most current thinking does not for- mally consider, or even suggest, a focus and formal concern for societal value added, does this mean we cannot really add value to society? Does it really mean that because we haven’t done so in the past we should not do so now? Can I really do something to add value to society? Little me? The answer is a very firm “Yes.”

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We are all more powerful and more potent than we imag- ine. We can make a difference, even if the difference is small and is combined with the contributions of others. We all must have a firm and continuing focus on Mega, on societal value added, or we all suffer. The past is prologue, not a firm guide to how we think and act in the future. If we don’t recycle, we will likely diminish the quality of life in our world and run out of resources. If we don’t each make sure we don’t pollute, everyone suffers. Sure a little litter or pollution here and there doesn’t seem to matter, but it does. Each little bit adds up. If we don’t clean up our messes or stop the messes before they begin, then we discount the health, safety, and well-being of others. Each of us must act in a way so as not to bring harm to ourselves and others. If we fail to do this, then harm will likely come: driving drunk, operating an unsafe vehicle, not washing our hands while working in a restaurant, not making certain that what we produce is safe. Each of us has a continuing role for adding value to our shared world. Even if doing so at first gets us out of our old and no longer responsive comfort zones. In fact, a useful Mega-focused question to keep in mind was pro- vided by U.S. President John F. Kennedy who asked “If not us, who? If not now, when?” He also focused on Mega contribu- tions when he challenged his fellow citizens to “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” We all depend on others to make Mega primary on their list as we deal with them regularly: airlines, grocery stores, restau- rants, auto mechanics, physicians, dentists, manufacturers, and service people. Why should we expect Mega from every- one else and not provide it ourselves? Ethics. Deliver Mega to all you work with and to yourself as well. We depend on each other.

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Organization and Family Accomplishments— Next Link in the Value Chain

The next link in our value chain is what we can and do deliver outside of ourselves:

I commit to add value to my organization and family.

When working for an organization, these will be your Macro-level results that might be a completed and quality- approved motorcar, a professional service, a family gift to char- ity, or the support of a child for higher education. All organizations, including the family, operate in a societal context. What they use, do, produce, and deliver have impact as well as consequences. So, everything we use, do, and pro- duce has to be targeted and integrated toward adding value to the organization’s contribution to our shared world. What we deliver outside of ourselves has to add value externally. This puts individual actions and results in perspective. Everything must add value to what can be delivered. If we are attending a school, for instance, this level would be graduation or getting a certificate of competence. Organization planners have been known to start and stop here at the point of adding value. They talk about “the business case”: quarterly profits, doing the business of the corporation, etc. This limitation is self-defeating. If an organization is not adding value to society, it will surely have an uncertain future. How can that be true? Don’t most business schools and man- agement consultants talk about the organization as the primary client and beneficiary of “strategic” planning? Yes, and they are shortsighted when they limit themselves to the quarterly Profit and Loss sheet. Organizations (and families) are means to societal ends. Think for a moment about all of the “smart” fast-track organiza- tions that faltered or even failed in the early 2000s: Andersen, WorldCom, Enron, Tyco, HIH, and the high-flying dot.coms. And there were more who took themselves (and a few insiders) as the primary client and beneficiary. They denied or ignored their societal responsibilities, muttering “all the right words” while doing destructive things.

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What about the family next door that builds an addition that blocks our view or access, and in addition, they dump building scraps in a vacant lot. Good neighbors? Not quite. What about families of looters, thieves, terrorists, and scam artists? Are you planning your future and have your sites set on graduating college? Great. For you that accomplishment will be at the Macro level. Don’t forget that with that degree, you have to find a way to add value to society and community at the Mega level. As you plan your life, and as you make decisions, keep in mind the two levels of linked planning: Mega and Macro. Macro is an en route value chain stop on the way to Mega. All organizations are means to societal ends—means to Mega. All building-block results are way stations en route to adding societal value.

Individual Accomplishments:

The Building Blocks of Success

Big accomplishments are built from small deeds—from Micro level results. Little accomplishments build value toward larger accomplishments:

Micro-Level

Accomplishments

toward larger accomplishments: Micro-Level Accomplishments Macro-Level Accomplishments Mega-Level Accomplishments This

Macro-Level

Accomplishments

Micro-Level Accomplishments Macro-Level Accomplishments Mega-Level Accomplishments This is the path of a value chain

Mega-Level

Accomplishments

This is the path of a value chain for results. All roads and results lead to Mega. Remember this as you make decisions. Ask yourself “Will this take me closer or further away from Mega.” This will be quick and effective if, and only if, you are objective. The last person you should attempt to fool is yourself. What about these building-block results? The statement that goes with that is:

I commit to add value to my immediate associates at work (and/or close friends).

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When we operate on a day-to-day basis, we are making decisions all the time. Drive to work or take a bus? Come to work on time or sleep a few more minutes? Turn in our first draft or polish it until we think it is just right. Call him for coffee or wait for his call. Turn in a slightly inflated expense report or do it to the letter of the law. Decisions, decisions. How do you make these daily decisions? We can make every one on the basis of the commitment to add value to my immediate associate, including family and friends. Will that add value to my immediate associates? And will that add value to my organization? And will that add value to external clients and society? These questions about decisions in the value chain form the Micro-level to Mega-level chain illustrated earlier:

Micro-Level

Accomplishments

chain illustrated earlier: Micro-Level Accomplishments Macro-Level Accomplishments Mega-Level Accomplishments When

Macro-Level

Accomplishments

Micro-Level Accomplishments Macro-Level Accomplishments Mega-Level Accomplishments When you think about it for a

Mega-Level

Accomplishments

When you think about it for a moment, it makes sense. Everything we use, do, produce, and deliver should add meas- urable value to our shared world—to each other. Everyone should do it. But does everyone do it now? Sadly, no. Should they?

Yes.

If we just do what others are doing, we harvest the conse- quences of that decision. If we do “what’s right,” then we can sleep better at night, set a role model for others, and add some value to our shared world. But that is your decision.

Putting All the Pieces Together

What does all of this look like? The relationship among the results of planning and doing are outlined in the following table:

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83

Decision Success Model (DSM) and Its Relationships and Alignments

Decision

Primary

DSM

Element

Target

Name

1. I commit to add value to our shared world and community.

Society and

Mega

community

2. I commit to add value to my organi- zation and family.

The

Macro

organization

 

itself

3. I commit to add value to my imme- diate associates at work (and/or close friends).

Individuals

Micro

4. I commit to select and use efficient tools, methods, and means to accomplish the above (1, 2, and 3).

Activities,

Processes

programs,

projects,

 

interventions—

means

5. I commit to select useful resources—including physical, financial, and human—to get the results identified above (1, 2, and

Resources

Inputs

3).

6. I commit to evaluate the results I get and use that data to continuously improve what I use, do, produce, and deliver, including the impact and consequences of the results.

All

Evaluation and

Continual

Improvement

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The Value Chain Again:

Linking Planning and Results

Before we leave this part of our “success quest,” let’s make sure we understand the value chain and its parts and pieces related to ends and accomplishments:

DSM

Element

Name of Primary Client and Beneficiary

Mega

Macro

Micro

Shared society

Our organization/our family or living group

Our co-workers/friends

And these planning levels and results guide what we do and use, which is applicable to the rest of the DSM:

Inputs

Inputs and ingredients (not results)

Evaluation and continual improvement

Of all DSM elements

Why is all of this important? Easy: All of these are critical elements and considerations when you make decisions— decisions at work and decisions in life. What we decide has impacts and consequences.

Slow down! Isn’t this getting a bit heavy? Could be. It is worth your careful consideration in terms of what you will achieve if you understand and use this as compared to keep on doing what you always have been doing with the payoffs you are now getting. Change. Choices. Consequences.

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You weren’t promised a quick fix, and this is not one. Quick fixes in life are often like putting Band-Aids on brain tumors:

symptomatic relief, but it doesn’t do a thing for you over time. Research shows us that quick fixes often feel good at first, but usually don’t change much of the resulting consequences. And sometimes quick fixes can make things worse. So let’s make sure we deal with the basic problems and opportunities, and not with just the symptoms. Making useful decisions requires a lot of precision and rigor, as well as learning some new things. Aren’t you and your success worth the effort? From time to time, what is presented might be out of your comfort zone. But mastering and internalizing it will lead you to make decisions for your success. It really prepares you for those amazing 30 seconds. So take a breath and maybe take a walk. Come on back when you are ready and we will continue our journey away from mediocrity to success. That’s a promise. When you get back (if you do take a breather), in the next chapter we will explore the means and resources required in successful decision making and how to decide what to use and do.

Appendix to Chapter 5

Complete the Decision-making Agreement Table to help you and others link everything that is used, done, produced, and delivered with external consequences. You can use this for both yourself and others with whom you relate and work, although the one below is designed primarily for use in organi- zations. Modify it for your personal life. When applying this, have each person formally commit to each with their signature or initials. There is no waffling allowed: either in or out. If someone, for any reason, dithers or defers, that is fine. Just have them initial under “No.” Other- wise, sign under “Yes.” The responses to these statements should provide you with a good blueprint for changing how you make decisions and the data you collect to do so.

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Because of the order and nature of the statements in this agreement table, and because it requires formal commitment to each statement, it helps you challenge your normal and com- fortable ways of dealing with change. As you go through the statements and are responding “No,” you may soon see that you are operating on the basis of old ways of thinking and act- ing. Using it can be helpful to you and all others in your per- sonal and organizational life. One note on the wording in this agreement table: This book attempts to relate to both you and your everyday life as well as to your working and organizational life. We add both into our suggestions, and this can be seen in the statements below. When the book talks to you, what it is saying can (and should) be applied to any organization in which you work.

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Strategic Thinking and Planning Agreement Table

Commitment

Me

Others

Y

N

Y

N

1. Myself, my associates, and my total organi- zation will contribute to the survival, health, and well-being of others, clients, and society.

       

2. Myself, my associates, and my total organi- zation will contribute to the quality of life of others, clients, and society.

       

3. Each personal and organizational operation function will have objectives that contribute to #1 and #2.

       

4. Each job/task will have objectives that contribute to #1, #2, and #3.

       

5. A needs assessment will identify and document any gaps in results at the opera- tional levels of #1, #2, #3, and #4.

       

6. Human resources/training and/or opera- tions requirements will be based on the needs identified and selected in #5.

       

7. The results of #5 may recommend non- HRD training interventions.

       

8. Evaluation and continual improvement will compare results with objectives for #1, #2, #3, and #4.

       

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Endnotes

1. In my other work, I call the questions that every organization must

(1) ask, (2) answer, and (3) align The Organizational Elements Model

(OEM). I have modified these for this book under the title Decision Success Model (DSM) to emphasize that all decisions ultimately come down to individual ones.

2. In earlier works, I urged that results at the three levels of planning

have distinct labels. I still suggest it is important for organizational

improvement work and that lumping all results into one label (usually “outcomes”) blurs the levels and the importance of distinguishing among them and linking them. If you will apply this in your organiza- tional world of strategic planning and thinking, I suggested this for- mulation:

     

Associated

Decision

Primary

DSM

Name for

Element

Target

Name

Results at

That Level

1. I commit to add value to our shared world and community.

Society and

Mega

Outcomes

community

2. I commit to add value to my organization and family.

The organiza-

Macro

Outputs

tion itself

3. I commit to add value to my immediate associ- ates at work (and/or close friends).

Individuals

Micro

Products

4. I commit to select and use efficient tools, methods, and means to accomplish the above (1, 2, and 3).

Activities,

Processes

Processes

programs,

projects,

interventions—

means

5. I commit to select useful resources, including physical, financial, and human to get the results identified above (1, 2, and 3).

Resources

Inputs

Inputs (or

ingredients)

(continued)

5. Aligning Results and Consequences

89

6.

I commit to evaluate the results I get and use that data to continuously improve what I use, do, produce, and deliver including the impact and consequences of the results.

All

Evaluation

Evaluation

and

and

continuous

continuous

improvement

improvement

3. Research almost world-wide provides some interesting patterns.

Almost all people say they must deal with all of the DMS factors rigorously, precisely, and measurably. And almost all agree that the ends—Mega and Macro as well as Micro—are dealt with poorly—very

poorly.

Chapter 6

Needs Versus Wants: Getting the Data for Justifiable Decisions

Key Success Factor Five

How do we decide what objectives are worthwhile? How do we choose where we are headed—useful destinations—so that we will be successful? The “trick” is simple:

Define need as a gap in results

insufficient levels of resources, means, or methods).

(not as

Once again, the words we use, and the mental pictures they develop are vital. The word need is poorly used and badly over- used. 1 Defining it and using it as a noun—a gap in results—can really pay big dividends. Semantic quibbling? No. Different from conventional usage? Definitely. It is also worth the bother. As a review, the key success factors for making successful decisions are presented in the table on the following page. Again, you might be testing your real commitment to the first key factor: Be ready to change your usual and “automatic” responses to your world. We will be convincing you that, again, the conventional and usual won’t always serve you well. We present a unique definition of need as a gap in results, not a gap in means or resources. Simple? Sure it is simple, and understanding our definition of need will change your confi- dence in deriving useful objectives, but everyone else wants to use the word as a verb. Let’s see.

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Five Key Success Factors for Making Successful Decisions: Becoming a Strategic Thinker*

1.

Don’t assume that what worked in the past will work now. Get out of your comfort zone and be open to change.

2.

Differentiate between ends (what) and means (how) and prepare all objectives to measure accomplishment.

3.

Use a wide-world view—an ideal vision (Mega) of what kind of world, in measurable performance terms, we want for all of us, including tomorrow’s child, as the underlying basis for planning, decision making, and continuous improvement.

4.

Use all three levels of planning and results (Mega/Outcomes; Macro/Outputs; Micro/Products) for decision making.

5.

Define “need” as a gap in results (not as insufficient levels of resources, means, or methods).

*In each chapter, these five key decision factors are provided with the major topic of that chapter in bold.

Here is the definition of need we urge: Current Desired 0 Results Results MEANS END
Here is the definition of need we urge:
Current
Desired
0
Results
Results
MEANS
END
END

Needs are gaps between current results and desired results at three levels (Mega, Macro, and Micro). Given this definition of need, then the way we use the gaps-in-results data for setting priorities is called needs assessment: the identifica- tion and prioritization of needs for selection elimination or reduction.

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93

Why do we want to identify needs as gaps in results and then be able to prioritize them? So that we can make useful decisions based on hard performance data and not on wants, wishes, conventional wisdom, previous experience, or just plain hope. Defining need as a gap in results is critical in spite of the way just about everyone else uses it. It is true: In everyday language, need is used as a verb:

I need more money.

You need less money.

I need to go to the mall.

I need a new coat.

I need a new car.

I need more time.

You need less time.

I need help.

I need to be left alone.

I need for you to love me.

I need….

Get the idea? Needs, when used the way we urge, are gaps in results. Wants are usually about means solutions. When we use need as a verb (or in a verb sense) we are jumping right over the requirements of the ends we want to deliver and getting directly into solutions: confusing means and ends… and needs and wants. Remember Chapter 3 where we went into the difference between ends and means? This definition of need as a gap in results, as a noun, is another enrichment of that concept: a need is a gap in ends, not a gap in means or resources.

Another Opportunity for Useful Change. How do we convince you to use need only as a noun, even in the face of what everyone else does? (The fact that everyone does it might be a clue to that being the royal—and comfortable—road to mediocrity.) 2

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When we use need as a verb, we are usually focusing on means 3 as well as solutions we want or that are comfortable, usual, and common. Because we want something—a thing, solution, method, or person—doesn’t turn it into a need. When we define need as a gap in results, our chances of basing deci- sions on really useful data are much improved. 4 We are frequently captive of our past and that includes comfortable language behavior. Most of us are comfortable with the conventional use of need as a verb. Comfortable yes, but when we stay comfortable (and conventional) with “need to,” “need for,” “need to,” or “needing,” we are cheating our- selves out of a powerful verbal guide. When we confuse means and wants with ends and consequences, we are defining the basis for poor decisions; when we use need as a verb, we are jumping to means and cutting off our options, often without realizing it. Notice how often in everyday conversation and in advertis- ing we use need as a verb, and how each and every time we do, we jump into a solution; we foreclose our options because need as we use it is a very demanding word—no options, no choices. In fact, using it as a verb refers more often to wants than to needs.

Recalling a Conversation on Need with a Giant

Several years ago, Dr. Harold Greenwald joined our faculty at the US International University (now the Alliant Interna- tional University). We invited him over for dinner, wanting to explore his brilliance one-on-one. He was a father of short- term psychotherapy (Direct Decision Therapy) and the only psychologist I ever heard of who had his doctoral disserta- tion made into a movie. We were sitting at the end of a basketball court next to our apartment in San Diego when I sprung it on him:

(continued)

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95

“Harold, why do I have so much trouble getting people not to use need as a verb?” Without missing a beat, he noted, “If we psychotherapists will be honest with you and each other, we have the same problem.” Of course I asked him for more. Greenwald then went on to explain: “When people use need as a verb, such as ‘I need him’ or ‘I need her,’ they have cut their options down to one. They don’t realize they have options. They don’t realize they have choices.” Confirmation. I was no longer alone in this semantic dis- tinction and found support from one of the great therapists. Need when used as a verb forecloses options and cuts choices down to one. If you want to disempower anyone, take away their options and tell them “what they need.”

Wants are almost always about solutions and means, not about ends. Recall that the only sensible way to choose a means is on the basis of the results we want to get. When we use need as a noun, we open up the window for identifying and selecting means and resources. We can continue on with the conventional use of need and continue choosing means and resources before knowing the ends to be achieved, or we can shift our paradigm—be strate- gic thinkers—and decide on the basis of reality as well as future success. How about an exercise to try this new key decision-making guide out. Here are some needs that we see or hear every day. Identify which ones are needs—gaps in results—and which ones are not.

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Which of These Statements are Needs and Which are Wants?

Needs

Wants (Gaps in Processes or Resources)

(Gaps in

Results)

1.

I need to meet more people.

   

2.

We need to earn more money.