Who is Integrated Strategies?

October 29, 2007

Decision Windows

You have a decision to make and there are a lot of variables that come into play. Scenarios keep running through your head showing the outcomes of the various options you are still weighing. Days pass as you agonize before finally making the call. Implementation plans are put together, conference calls are held to discuss the strategy and time is tight to pull everything together.

A company is relocating to a new facility. Their lease is up at the end of January and they have to be in a new location before then. Everything needs to be in place to assure that there is no downtime to their clients and that they stay within a known budget. They know 18 months before the lease expires that the change is coming. Everything should be fine....not exactly.

Knowing something is going to happen and making it happen are two completely different things. This company did not start looking for a new site until 8 months before they had to be out. Ten months came and went with almost no action. Ten months when they could have been looking for the perfect building, negotiating the perfect lease and working with supplier and vendors ahead of time to get the best pricing possible for their move. They finally signed a site and then realized that they had no plan in place. Their method of putting the plan together? Call up four or five vendors and see who comes in with the lowest priced plan and see if they could make it work. Don't worry that the vendor doesn't have all the details, they say they can make it happen. RFPs went out 5 1/2 months before lease expiration. Bids came back 4 months before.

Lead times for materials run at 2 months currently, installation will take another 2 weeks, moving their product has to occur over weekends and there will probably be four weekends or more of moves and plans still haven't been approved or evaluated. Even with the best coordination they will be getting in with no time to spare and probably quite a few new gray hairs on their managers' heads. Regardless of whether everything works out in the end for this company there were serious flaws in their decision process.

One of topics that comes up a lot here (one of my favorite subjects) is Decision Making. There is a science to making the correct decision for your company. Decision making is a process, not an action. The result of the process is an actionable plan to make something happen. Whether you are trying to decide strategic direction, choosing a new facility location or making personnel decisions there are always pros and cons. Good managers are the ones that look at and balance all of the criteria to reach a decision that maximizes benefits.

Great managers make the same decisions at the right time. They make the right decision either without hesitation that costs time and money or delay the decision until a more appropriate moment. Making a facility decision two years before a lease is up does not make sense. Situations will change during the next two years and the decision will lose value as time goes on. Every decision has a window of the appropriate timing it must be made in. There can be tremendous benefit to bringing in help to make the best decision. Outside observers can strip away the biases and faulty assumptions inherent to being to close to the situation.

Do you account for decision windows when making the big decisions? Sometimes a day's delay can be the difference in whether the decision was good or bad. Nothing occurs in a vacuum when it comes to business. Not even decisions.

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