On making decisions and moving forward

As the first half of the year is coming to a close, I observe an undefinable uncertainty tainting 2018. It seems we are allowing outside circumstances to stall our visions, warp our plans and developments.

The most recent was the minute but tangible panic-wave that crept up in May, also known as GDRP (DGSVO). A change that was at least 12 months in the coming, reactions varied from a calm, slow approach to a panicked, lamented bombardment. As a consumer, I could easily tell which company had its ducks in a row, and which was riding around very much a headless horseman. And as a consumer, my emotions ranged from aggravation, utter vexation, incomprehensibility to indifferent acknowledgement and understanding. Many brands no doubt lost countless customers, readers and followers. And hopefully it will make way for the analysis of content quality and quantity.

But this one milestone also shows the indecisiveness that is becoming predominant in organizations. In our digital day and age, uncertainty paired with fast-moving technological developments has become an undeniable factor in the business equation. As undeniable and unpredictable as human interaction and experience itself. Yet nothing new, really. The first and second industrial revolutions were no different in essence.

As I am personally affected by what appears to be a circle of indecision, I have my theories on the root causes, be they unproven as yet.

Setting priorities is more difficult than it sounds. Weighing the consequences of action versus inaction, making the decision to focus on certain goals above others. Choosing between A and B and between different stakeholders.

Or misunderstanding what leadership means. Recognizing an issue, charting a course, bringing the team there, evaluating results. Leadership is not busy management. And it needs courage and creativity.

Fear of the future, of the next development just around the corner, of the hoards of data yet unprocessed that hold hidden the solution to the problem. Fear of not understanding how to take the next step, how to make the decision. It sounds banal, but fear, even if only a 5%-manifestation, is enough to impair any decision-making energy.

Philosophies such as Agile and Design Thinking paired with methodologies such as Scrum make it increasingly difficult to plan, which has been past-time number one for management in the past two decades. We have perfected planning, in a sense. Proof can be seen in the ever growing need of external service providers in the project management field, ranging from automated project management tools and digital assistants to professionals of all kinds.

A far less used and apparently needed skill is project leadership, which is an official job title and qualification. Compared to project management, project leadership focuses on driving and enabling decisions, shaping strategic direction and actually creating projects for project managers to manage. Incidentally, it’s not that far from the leadership needed for successful team and employee management. Skills such as empathy, cultural adequacy, psychological understanding but also improvisation, analytical finesse and project management know-how play together to create focused navigation.

Processes are evaluated and defined, workflows greased and optimized, but most importantly, decisions are structured, prepared and made. Actively moving forward is the goal. Because moving forward takes you one step closer to realizing your vision.

Up until now, I have observed a lot of inaction in 2018. Organizations seem to be stuck in their meetings, endless decision papers, managers upon managers discussing options, scenarios, case studies, involving experts, dis-involving experts, waiting for responses or information. It seems to me like every involved party is waiting for something or other from another party.

I wonder who will make the decision to stop waiting and just start doing what is in their own power to do. And with that I will leave you today, my dear reader: „Only focus on what you can control.“

Stop stalling. Time to act, do, move forward.