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AUGUST 2016

Denial and Decisions

People tend to focus so much on an unfolding crisis that it's easy to forget how they got there. Problems usually start with denial, the first stage of an approaching gray rhino crisis. Whether our denial comes from an honest blind spot or from willful ignorance, the ways we make decisions in organizations, governments, and life can help us to deal better with the risks we'd rather not exist.

Luckily, there are things you can do to keep you out of trouble. They start with regularly asking yourself tough questions about how you make important choices for yourself, for your family, or for your organization? Who is at the table? Do you have all the information you need? Are biases and group dynamics getting in the way of seeing the most important and obvious problems or opportunities? 

One technique is to recognize your decision making style. If you decide on a hunch or a whim, if you get overwhelmed and can't make up your mind, or if you ask the opinions of people from a variety of perspectives who can alert you to things you might not be able to see yourself. Even if you feel that you do get the right information and have a good process, do yourself a favor and ask others you trust if they agree. If you're too quick or too slow to decide, think about how you could turn to someone with a different approach to help to balance your style. Whatever answer you end up with, it's worth checking in with yourself regularly to question if you are getting the right combination of views. 

Similarly, ask yourself regularly, if you're including the views you need to make good business decisions. If everyone around the conference table always agrees, you likely have blind spots that could hurt you. Is one person quieter than the others? Make a point of getting that person's point of view. Does one person monopolize conversations? If so, consider that other important perspectives might be drowned out. Does your board or team include people who are part of your key customer demographics? If not, how do you get information about what your customers like or don't like? It's often hard to accurately assess an organization from the inside. Consider bringing in a trusted outsider for an independent view of how your organization makes important decisions that could help avoid going down a road leading to crisis.

I would love to hear your thoughts on what decisions you've made that have worked out spectacularly or have been disasters. How would you apply that experience to future decisions you make?
 

Tidbits
This month I've also got several quick tidbits to share. 

  • The Governor of the Central Bank of the Philippines not only mentioned gray rhinos in a recent speech, he made it part of the title! I'm delighted that policy makers are incorporating the concept into their thinking.
  • The international paperback edition of THE GRAY RHINO is now available in India via Pan Macmillan India.
  • I joined more than 200 foreign policy experts who signed on to an open letter that Ali Wyne penned for The American Interest expressing concerns about Donald Trump's foreign policy.
  • You can now request a digital "authorgraph" for your e-book copy of THE GRAY RHINO. Just follow this link.
  • People are tweeting using the #grayrhino hashtag to identify all kinds of obvious but neglected problems. There are a few examples below. See a gray rhino? Tweet it!

Reading


Trump: RINO or Gray Rhino?
Huffington Post, July 19, 2016
He trampled the GOP and conventional wisdom, but will Trump end up being his own gray rhino?


On Glass Cliffs and Gray Rhinos
Womens Media Center, August 9, 2016
Bringing women into leadership positions earlier can head off gray rhinos. Why wait until it's almost too late?


Recognizing Success and Managing Black Swans, Elephants in the Room and Gray Rhinos
Speech by Mr Amando M. Tetangco, Jr, Governor of the Central Bank of the Philippines, at the FMAP 2016 Awards and Fellowship Night, Makati City, 21 July 2016. Written remarks via the Bank for International Settlements
 

 

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