Last week I was speaking with a friend about our house search. Another friend joined us and we explained what we were just speaking about. She immediately wanted to know the school district of a house we’d seen and liked. Here’s the jist of the conversation –

Me: It’s in Middleberg District

Her: Well, if it were in Walton, the house would be worth more when you sell it

Me: I don’t care.

Her: Well, a buyer will care.

Me: I still don’t care.

Her: Well houses are so cheap now, for just $50,000 more you can be in Walton District.

So you see this conversation is not friendly at this point. She’s slapping her criteria on my decision – unbidden.

In business, where people are paid to make decisions and millions of dollars are riding on them, this same dynamic can be seen. People leap to conclusions without exploring the criteria thoroughly. Others wade in to applaud or criticize a decision based on whim, personal preference, or criteria tied to an irrelevant outcome. Just watch conversations and see how fast many people move to a recommendation or decision.

What to do instead?

1. Define the objectives. Then, operationalize them. What do you mean by the words you chose. Large, fast, better, bigger, best, world-class?

2. Now think about criteria for the decision. Write them down. Note which are of greater importance, which are of average importance and which are of low import. Don’t confuse your definitions of the objectives with criteria for making the decision.

3. Test your criteria. Challenge tunnel vision, banish looking sideways at competitors and “benchmarking”, disallow foolish notions such as “we always do such and such”, turn your assumptions into targets by asking “how do we know that?”

Don’t let others unchallenged beliefs, set forth as valid criteria, drive your choices whether picking a house or a strategy. Their criteria may be good for them, but you need to derive your own. That is unless your objective is to have the approval of others.

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