In celebration of Easter weekend, we honor the bunny for his speed. Fast, like a bunny, is equally appropriate for business decisions and action. Decision making is a skill; appropriately timed decision making is an art form. When is it too early--you really don't know enough to make an informed decision and you're just guessing or going on impulse. When is it too late--procrastination and bureaucratic pontification is usually a precursor for organizational failure. John Chambers, the long-time CEO of highly successful Cisco Systems, has often stated that his biggest mistakes occurred when he didn't act fast enough. The skill is recognizing when you have enough information or inputs or judgments or intuitions, and then speed into action.
I'm frequently asked what I find when i enter into a dysfunctional company; a bunch of bad decisions? No, usually a company strangles itself when management cannot make decisions. When you make decisions, based on some information coupled with your judgment, good things happen, even if the decisions are wrong. From wrong decisions you learn, from not making a decision you learn nothing. With good decisions the organization can progress, without decisions they are spinning in the wind. The Obama administration faced a dysfunctional country, just like I have frequently faced a dysfunctional company. They inherited a mess and didn't have the time to sort through all the facts and factors in a methodical way--fast action was necessary. Time will tell whether they made more good decisions than incorrect ones, but surely some were good and they will learn from those that were not good. Of course the problem with making lots of decisions in any environment is that there are always naysayers; people who don't have the responsibility can easily say "mistake" and criticize. But that's the short-term price you pay for being a leader, for taking on tough decisions, for putting yourself on the line. The long term reward, if you mostly make good decisions as well and learn and recover from the less good ones, fully offsets these short term problems.