Should You Make Decisions Quickly, or Should You Analyze the Data?

I was looking through some of my old blog posts, wondering why I haven’t posted lately, and I noticed something. I have duplicate blog posts! Several posts tell the same story and provide the same message. (Finding the duplicates is an exercise left to the reader.)

My first thought was dismay. How could I, who always talks so much about quality and details, overlook that? It is obvious I don’t have a quality control step in my publishing pipeline that checks for duplicates. Maybe I should. But this got me thinking about something else, that is, maybe publishing more quickly aligns with my concepts of moving fast, trying to get things done. Perhaps I have days where I have an idea in my head, and I’m just writing and publishing the story as fast as I can. So all this led me to a third thought: these two ideas conflict with one another. How could I publish advice and concepts that contradict each other? And what does that mean when I post a story or a narrative, and I can immediately think of a dozen ways to dispute the assertions I’ve made?

When you distill it down, leadership and management are, in a lot of ways, about decision making, and decision making is frequently about reacting. Oh, look, a situation has arisen. Let’s gather some data, analyze it, and make a decision. Or, we need to decide what product to build next, what market to capture, where to pivot our strategic vision. Or even further, I just received a phone call or an email, asking me to make a decision on something for a project. Sometimes you have time to think about it and analyze it, and sometimes you have to make a risk-based reactionary decision.

I said something the other day to a coworker regarding my priorities at work as a manager. I said that my current priorities are, and this is in priority order, 1/ developing people, 2/ hiring people, and 3/ making sure we are measuring the right things and measuring the things right. Everything else after those three priorities is just reactionary decision-making.

Having all these different concepts and narratives in your head, even if they contradict, is still good. You can use them to give you perspective and vision into your analysis when making a reactionary decision. I’ve heard it called having “healthy tension”. Do you act now and move fast, or do you slow down to review the details for quality? The trick to being a good leader and manager is knowing which narratives to use for the reactionary decision in front of you. There’s probably a quantitative way to figure this out, i.e., potential benefits divided by effort (or something). Still, a lot of it is experience-based intuition, knowing based upon previous events which pattern the current situation fits into and making a decision based upon which narrative most closely matches that pattern.

Getting back to duplicate blog posts. The reactionary decision is, do I take the time to go back and fix the duplicate posts? Do I adjust my publishing workflow to prevent this from happening? Well, the reality is, there’s not much benefit to gain by fixing old blog posts. There’s probably not much to gain by being more exhaustive in my publishing quality control. Thus, my reactive decision is to do nothing. Now, if this was a customer deliverable, I was being paid for? That’s a different pattern, and I would do more quality control. But this blog, which is free content that I publish and don’t even really know how many people read it? Meh, it doesn’t really matter. Hopefully, people will enjoy my blog posts for what they are, and if you come across a duplicate, well, assume that it means it was an important story to me.

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