In a complex world, speedy solutions rarely work. Unintended consequences, time lags, and interconnected systems whirled with risk and ramifications sidetrack easy solutions. There are no quick fixes and that leadership mindset needs to change.
Ralph Kilmann’s 1991 book, Beyond the Quick Fix: Managing Five Tracks to Organizational Success remains valid today–leaders need a new mindset that goes beyond simple response toward sustainable resolutions. In a rush to action, symptoms divert attention from root causes. Are today’s problems, issues, or opportunities really simple? Leaders should not be being playing the equivalent of speed tic-tac-toe where getting to any win first is the goal.
Acting is critical but it must be the right action at the right time in the right way for the right results. A quick overview, a readymade response or reverting to “what we have always done” cannot substitute for careful analysis, critical thinking, creative solutions, and integrated planning.
Dr. Paul Nutt in his 2002 book, Why Decisions Fail,reported that 80% of decisions are made without considering an alternative. While it is understandable that past success is alluring, the financial advisors caution that past success is not a guarantee of future success also holds true in other fields. Leaders do not need speed as much as they need accuracy and sustainability.
This means that the leader’s role as the person with “all” the answers must change. Instead of thinking that leadership equates to the fount of all knowledge, a leader’s real role is to ask penetrating questions. It is discovery, innovative and systems thinking, not the “tried and true,” that deliver lasting results.
The next time a binary choice is offered, recognize it as trap. Few situations in life have only two options. And many have learned to present one reasonable proposal paired with one that is unworkable. The apparent easy choice leads into the uncharted school of hard knocks territory.
Instead, allocate time to examining assumptions, identifying multiple options, and considering both the possible and improbable before making the decision. Speed is not the answer on the highway or in organizations. Remember it was the tortoise and not the hare that won the race. Take the time and involve the right resource to get it right the first time.
Is it time to change your leadership mindset?