by Tony Vidler
Paralysis from analysis is an achilles heel of professional services it seems, and there is a general need for leaders to be more decisive if they want big wins in business.
Indecision is prevalent at the moment, with uncertain political and macroeconomic factors, the opaque nature of ongoing regulatory reform in many sectors, and increasing division in society between the affluent and the struggling. There is a distinct shortage of accurate crystal balls right now, and there appears to me to be increasing indecision in professional services firms. As a result many firms are refining the art of “me too” – just mimicking competitors and trying to stay safe in the middle of the herd.
Yet, we all know the stories and admire the folk who have built incredible professional services businesses and we continually fail to learn from their successes. No matter whether we look at a Warren Buffet or an Arthur Andersen there is a single common denominator that is the foundation of their growth and market position:
No matter what others in the market believed to be the right way forward, and no matter that they too lacked accurate crystal balls, each professional services firm leader who has built something magnificent has done so by being willing to make many many decisions. Sure they have made some big decisions very well, and usually the focus of the analysis of their success is upon a particular decision which is deemed to be the catalyst for their growth.
That type of analysis – or legend-creation – neglects to consider a key point which we smaller firms need to be very conscious of:
They make lots of decisions daily, and when one decision turns out to be not-so-good, they simply make another better decision swiftly.
That is decisiveness.
Not getting all decisions correct, but being willing to make many decisions and accept that perhaps 49% of them are going to be wrong. But as soon as it is apparent that a wrong decision was made (or perhaps that a better decision is now able to be made), they do not hesitate to change course and commit fully to the revised decision.
Professionals today have many good reasons to be cautious and prudent. Prudence is usually safe too, so it is definitely an attribute which is not without merit. However prudence rarely creates greatness. Decisiveness does.
Practices which grow rapidly have leaders who make more decisions more often- and who are confident enough to recognise that they won’t all be correct. The lesson for us I believe is that great progress requires constant decisions, and the willingness to change our own previous decisions rapidly.