Decisions Set in Stone

We’ve all had these moments, your driving and trying to do it unaided (no GPS, no map). Maybe it’s a Sunday cruise to clear you mind or your on you bike and don’t want to pull over to whip out your cell phone. You come to a fork in the road and you make a decision. But as your diving along you have a feeling you made a wrong choice, do you A.) Pull over and verify your decision using some reasonable observable information (i.e. GPS) or B.) Keep going? Something like this will always happens: buyers remorse when buying a car or another big purchase, a diet or implementing a strategy at work. The goal is to re-evaluate early and often taking emotion out of the equation, if possible, and objectively and critically analyze what your trying to do. Do you keep going (you may not have enough information at that point to make a solid decision and that’s ok) or course correct.

6a00d83452d66d69e201901f07fc12970b-800wiHow silly would it be for you to keep driving? If you were trying to get from San Francisco to Denver you may hit the Pacific Ocean, Canada or Mexico instead. If someone you knew did that you would never let them forget it “Hey Ted remember that one time 10 years ago you tried to drive to Denver and ended up in a jail in Mexico?!?”. But are you doing this exact same thing at work?

A friend of my Gabe Chavez (check out his wife’s awesome art) recommended that I read “The Four Steps to the Epiphany” by Steve Blank. It’s a very good read if your into startups or business processes. At it’s core the book is about the Customer Development process which basically is a series of steps that are constantly re-evaluated and analyzed to ensure they are correct before moving on. After reading the book I’ve become more and more aware how companies make decisions and continue to plow on with them until it’s too late. I’ve always had an issue with this decision making processes, but now after reading that book I see why and how it’s far more harmful then I previously assumed.

Individually we all need to ensure that we are evaluating our decisions after they are made, especially with the ones that can greatly impact the business or our professional lives. No matter which side your on it should be something we all push for. If you alienate all your co-workers because the product or service you wanted got picked and they all hate it, was it worth it?

Before any decision is made a schedule for re-evaluation should be agreed upon, it should be frequent and based on how complex and how important the decision is. For example switching your transactional email provider, you may have had a list of pro’s and justifications on why your moving on from your current one to another. Give yourself a little bit of time to settle into the new thing and after a month or two take a look at your justifications to see how their holding up? Are they holding up well, then maybe only look at it one more time in 3 more months or so, is the foundation for those justifications showing some cracks? Then re-evaluate again in another month. Use metrics, observable data and facts as much as you can to guide your analysis.

I’ve championed many decisions and been in many meeting rooms where I’m the loudest guy. I’ve push many decisions that in the long run weren’t good ideas. But some of my proudest moments were when I went back into the same meeting room with those same folks and say “This isn’t working, and let me show you why”.

Blind commitment to a path is not desirable character trait in my opinion. We should all strive to re-evaluate and introspect when we can. At a minimum you have just reaffirmed a good decision, but by cutting your losses or adjusting your plan you could save time, money, get something to customers quicker or improve the quality of your work life.

Resgrid is a SaaS product utilizing Microsoft Azure, providing logistics, management and communication tools to first responder organizations like volunteer fire departments, career fire departments, EMS, search and rescue, CERT, public safety, disaster relief organizations, etc. It was founded in late 2012 by myself and Jason Jarrett (staxmanade).

About: Shawn Jackson

I’ve spent the last 18 years in the world of Information Technology on both the IT and Development sides of the aisle. I’m currently a Software Engineer for Paylocity. In addition to working at Paylocity, I’m also the Founder of Resgrid, a cloud services company dedicated to providing logistics and management solutions to first responder organizations, volunteer and career fire departments, EMS, ambulance services, search and rescue, public safety, HAZMAT and others.