Sometimes we're unaware that we're acting in haste, possibly because recognizing haste requires pausing to assess our condition. Still, recognizing haste is important, because haste, as they say, makes waste. But haste can do far more than make waste. Failure, bankruptcy, and threats to life and limb can follow, too, though not in every situation. Some signs of haste are obvious: the emergency meeting; sending out for dinner for everyone; or having people phone in from airports. But some signs of haste are more difficult to discern. A sampling:
- Rescheduling meetings too close to deadlines
- Decision quality can suffer when critical decision-making meetings are rescheduled from, say, a month before deadline to a day before the deadline. Cushioning intervals between decisions and deadlines make space for safety mechanisms.
- For example, these intervals let us seek outside support such as advice, research, or references. A zero-cushion rescheduling can compel us to decide now, at the meeting, irrevocably, and that can prevent us from foreseeing the foreseeable.
- Decisions require time, sometimes beyond the actual meetings at which they're drafted. Scheduling (or rescheduling) those meetings must take that time into account.
- Delivering supporting exhibits late
- If a decision depends on examining exhibits — documents, reports, experimental results, or other intelligence — and if delivery is late, decision makers might be unable to review the material adequately before the decision. They might be unable to grasp its full implications.
- Making decisions on time despite late exhibit delivery could mean that scheduling is more valued than decision quality. In effect, to compensate for the late delivery, the decision makers are sacrificing time they need.
- Determine Making decisions on time despite
late exhibit delivery could
mean that scheduling is more
valued than decision qualityin advance the minimum interval between exhibit delivery and the decision. Deciding about the minimum interval in the moment biases the group in favor of haste. Minimum intervals between deliveries and decisions might depend on the nature of the decisions.
- New team member pressure
- Sometimes, when new team members join a group, we feel compelled to proceed before they can become familiar with the issue at hand. Formally, the new members supposedly represent important constituencies or expertise, but that representation can be ineffective if familiarity with the immediate issue is limited.
- Making group decisions with inadequate representation of important constituencies or expertise exposes the group to risk. Mere assignment to the team of someone with relevant attributes doesn't make that person capable of functioning as intended.
- Establish criteria for team readiness before making critical decisions. As with exhibit delivery, the criteria might depend on the nature of the decision.
When the stakes are high, and both speed and decision quality are essential, lean toward quality. Make an agreement in your group that once the signs of haste are acknowledged, you'll take previously agreed-upon steps to limit the errors that haste can facilitate. Accept that you might have to decide in haste, but if you do, do it with eyes open. Next in this series Top Next Issue
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More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
- Figuring Out What to Do First
- Whether we belong to a small project team or to an executive team, we have limited resources and seemingly
unlimited problems to deal with. How do we decide which problems are important? How do we decide where
to focus our attention first?
- Poverty of Choice by Choice
- Sometimes our own desire not to have choices prevents us from finding creative solutions. Life
can be simpler (if less rich) when we have no choices to make. Why do we accept the same tired solutions,
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- Workplace Myths: Motivating People
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- Remote Facilitation in Synchronous Contexts: III
- Facilitators of synchronous distributed meetings (meetings that occur in real time, via telephone or
video) can make life much easier for everyone by taking steps before the meeting starts. Here's Part
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- Clueless on the Concept
- When a team member seems not to understand something basic and important, setting him or her straight
risks embarrassment and humiliation. It's even worse when the person attempting the "straightening"
is wrong, too. How can we deal with people we believe are clueless on the concept?
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming October 23: Power Distance and Teams
- One of the attributes of team cultures is something called power distance, which is a measure of the overall comfort people have with inequality in the distribution of power. Power distance can determine how well a team performs when executing high-risk projects. Available here and by RSS on October 23.
- And on October 30: Power Distance and Risk
- Managing or responding to project risks is much easier when team culture encourages people to report problems and question any plans they have reason to doubt. Here are five examples that show how such encouragement helps to manage risk. Available here and by RSS on October 30.
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- The Race to the South Pole: Lessons in Leadership
On 14 December 1911, four men led by Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole. Thirty-five days later, Robert F. Scott and four others followed. Amundsen had won the race to the pole. Amundsen's party returned to base on 26 January 1912. Scott's party perished. As historical drama, why this happened is interesting enough. But to organizational leaders, business analysts, project sponsors, and project managers, the story is fascinating. We'll use the history of this event to explore lessons in leadership and its application to organizational efforts. A fascinating and refreshing look at leadership from the vantage point of history. Read more about this program.
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44017: November 7,
Kerzner Lecture Series/International Project Management Day, sponsored by Baldwin Wallace University and the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the Project Management Institute.
- Baldwin-Wallace University, 275 Eastland Road, Berea, Ohio 44017: November 7, Kerzner Lecture Series/International Project Management Day, sponsored by Baldwin Wallace University and the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the Project Management Institute. Register now.
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Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.