Every time a subordinate, peer or potential vendor asks me to agree to do something, my mind quickly races through a list of eight questions:
1. Do I believe this could be important?
- If not, why would I do it?
2. Do I believe this will be successful?
- If not, is there anything I can do to make it successful?
3. What am I being asked to commit to?
- How much will it cost?
- How long will it take?
- How many resources must I commit?
4. Do I respect who’s asking me to make a commitment?
- If not, it’s much more difficult to agree.
5. May I do this?
- Do I have authorization to make this decision?
6. Can I do this?
- Do I have the ability to pull this off?
- Do I have the resources to pull this off?
7. Who else needs to be involved?
- Who can help make the right decision?
- Do I need to line-up the cooperation of others?
8. Will doing this impact my career?
- Will doing this risk my job?
- Most of these questions usually could be sufficiently answered without a great deal of effort resulting in a reasonably fast and probably accurate decision. Obviously, the bigger the commitment, the more effort I put into answering each question.
Regardless, since I have biases, I never gave each of these questions the same amount of importance.
1. I often was too quick to be too optimistic about the potential upside of a new idea.
2. I often assumed authorization that wasn’t clearly given.
3. I often didn’t obtain necessary cross division/function buy-in until later than I should have.
- I strongly recommend that you learn from this mistake.
4. I often didn’t worry very much about the amount of resources being committed…especially if I was enthusiastic about the potential outcome.
- Somehow, this usually worked out as we repeatedly prioritized projects based on the first two questions about importance and success.
5. I usually forgot to consider the impact on my career, which I believe improved both my decision making and overall career.