Over the last six months, HR pros have found themselves sucked into the pandemic’s
“Coronado,” and now they’re desperately trying to find solid ground in an ever-changing corporate landscape. Do we furlough? Can we avoid a reduction in force? How can we support a remote workforce? How do we keep employees safe when they return?
So many difficult decisions being made under pressure and within constrained time frames can be a recipe for disaster. How do we make the right choices in a bad situation?
Personally, I found my answer to that question in a cup of coffee.
Navigating the Decision Supply Chain
I love coffee. It’s my beverage of choice. The smell of the beans, the gurgling sound of it brewing, the deep caramel color, that first sip in which I try to pick out the subtleties of its heritage. It borders on an obsession.
Over the years, I have learned that I need to honor three specific rules if I want to have a consistently good cup of coffee:
- I need to know the coffee’s origin. Where were the beans harvested? I prefer beans from certain areas of the world.
- I need to know the coffee was ethically sourced and thoughtfully produced. The coffee industry is notorious for using slave labor to harvest its product. I need my coffee to come from an organization that invests in some of the poorest parts of the world (where coffee is often harvested) and provides a living wage for workers. I also want to know that the coffee roaster cares for those beans like their own children, giving them everything they need to achieve their full potential. (I told you I have a problem.)
- I need to respect my mood. If I’m upset or angry, even the best cup of coffee will taste bitter. I will pick it apart and call out every fault before I judgingly pour it down the sink.
If I can honor these three criteria, I have the best chance of enjoying a good cup of coffee.
I was discussing my coffee rules with a friend, who quipped that if I go through all that for a good cup of coffee, what must I go through to make a good decision? And thus, the seed was planted.
As someone who studies, speaks on, and writes about human behavior, I naturally started down a rabbit hole of research into what makes decisions good how to consistently make them so. To my surprise, my coffee rules are eerily aligned with what my research on choices revealed.
If you follow what I call the “decision supply chain,” your choices will be good every time and anxiety-free progress will be only a decision away. To make a good decision, we must do three things:
- Account for our core values (our nonnegotiables)
- Consider all the facts
- Honor our feelings in the moment
1. Account for Our Core Values
If we are being honest, most of us have no idea what our nonnegotiables are. We might have an idea of what we consider important, but if push came to shove, many of us would be hard-pressed to name our specific core values. I refer to these deeply held personal core values as our “Black Sheep Values.” They are values that simply will not be influenced or changed by outside forces, like a black sheep’s wool.
If we haven’t discovered our nonnegotiables, how are we supposed to align with our company’s values? Even if an organization’s values are written in stone, you can’t align with the broader company vision if all you have to go on is your constantly changing personal list of what matters to you.
We must define our nonnegotiables before we can begin the decision supply chain. There are several great resources to help you identify your core values, including Life Values Inventory and an online assessment I developed to help people find their Black Sheep Values.
2. Consider All the Facts
Once we have discovered what truly matters most to us and how to use those values to amplify the organizational mission, we can begin to gather the information we need to make a decision — in the words of the legendary Sgt. Joe Friday, “Just the facts, ma’am.” Unfortunately, we are living in a Google search world where “facts” have somehow become subjective.
Sometimes the truth in the room is a limited one. I relate it to searching for houses on a real estate app: If you narrow your search to an overly restrictive set of parameters, your results will be confined and your perception of what’s possible will be skewed. If you expand your search, even by a short distance, the results can change remarkably. This is why the second part of the decision supply chain is paramount. We need to consider all the facts, not just the facts in the room. Facts can exist beyond any limits you might set for them. Open up your search to find the real truth…