Do You Have SDS?
The hardest part of being in any business, large or small, is decision making. Different people handle this differently - no real surprise there - but depending on your personality type, where decision making is concerned, you can be guilty of one of two bad practices. You either make decisions too quickly and live to regret them later or you become paralyzed and live to regret it later.
I have SDS. (Snap Decision Syndrome). Apparently there are pharmaceutical (kind of proud of myself for spelling that right on the first try!) products that can help me. I don’t take them. Anyone who has worked with me for any length of time knows this. I know this about myself and for this reason I surround myself with people who are smart and confident enough to tell me I’m wrong, to rethink, to wait, etc. In really tough situations these people have to be adept at locking me in a virtual box for a while. John Zdanowski, who I had the distinct pleasure of working with while I was at Affinity, used to walk into my office and say, “you’re not allowed to answer this question until tomorrow morning,” and then he would go on with his idea. (That “Z” is also afflicted with Snap Decision Syndrome is the root of the 24-hour-cooling-off-period practice that we instituted when we were working together. Those were fun days.)
I’ve had SDS for long enough to have spent plenty of time thinking about it. (Usually when I’m trying to figure out how to get myself out of some challenge that I wouldn’t be in if I didn’t have SDS in the first place - but I digress). I know that I have SDS because my greatest fear in business is indecision. Makes sense, right? I’m so afraid of not making a decision that I will make decisions too fast in order to make sure that my teams can keep moving. The idea that there is some smart person sitting on her hands awaiting a decision from my office can nearly drive me insane. She knows what must be done. She’s provided a recommendation. For whatever reason it needs my approval. Make the damn decision and let her get moving!
If you have SDS know you’re not alone. If you’d like you can stand up and say the following out loud (I do not recommend doing this in a cubicle). “My name is _______________ and I have SDS.” You’ll feel better. Despite the existence of various depressive drugs that might help, the only real way to slow yourself down if you have SDS is with the help of smart, trusted others. (The ‘smart’ part is important because if you have dumb trusted others they’ll just always agree with you or they will disagree with you for dumb reasons and when this happens your SDS will actually get worse.) Your Smart team will help you avoid the downside ramifications of your SDS.
Here is a simple, three step process that should keep you (and me) out of trouble. When you are about to make a decision ask yourself if you’ve done the following.
- Review all of the available information about the reason for the decision so you have a thorough understanding.
- Take the time to think of the downside risks of the decision. What bad things are going to happen because you are making this decision?
- Bring in the person who is most likely to disagree with the decision. Tell them the decision. Listen to their view. (this is what you pay them for). BTW - The benefits of this are too many to list but high among them is that it is really a form of torture for the person you are listening to. They know that most of the time you’re going to go ahead and make the decision anyway. However, they also know that every once in a while, due to some miracle, solar flare, etc. you might actually listen to them. They don’t know which circumstance this will be until they’re done. (or until your eyes glaze over and you fall backwards over your exercise ball - if you happen to sit on one as I do - and hit your head on the window sill).
There is no cure for SDS. One can only mitigate its effects. Mitigation is a good idea because many of your ideas are bad ideas. Don’t let that depress you. You’re only human. Not everyone can be as smart as me.
(By the way. To my knowledge, SDS doesn’t exist. I made it up. There are therefore no drugs for it. If someone reads this and then makes up the syndrome and then makes money on curing it I want a piece of that. Good luck selling me something though. People with SDS are notoriously hard to sell. We’ve decided the answer is no before you even walk into our offices).