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  • Writer's picturePeter Wesley

You may not want to hear this

I need an Unreasonable Friend, and sometimes I need to be one.

We are living in uncertain times. As a business leader, I’m navigating uncharted waters in restricted visibility. Making quick decisions with limited information is pretty normal for most managers, it’s just a little more acute at the moment. COVID started with a bang and we got on with dealing with the issues we could see; keeping workers safe, moving to remote working, managing teams in a new environment, delivering for our customers, all urgent and in front of us. But now our challenges are a little less visible but equally urgent.

The COVID effect impacts business on many fronts. The economic impacts are being felt across all industries. It’s not just the headlines, most business owners I know are feeling the effects of this recession. Everyone is having to make changes, act quickly, and adjust in a business environment that is constantly changing. As business managers we are always having to make decisions with incomplete information however before COVID we had a bit more of visibility forward. I am currently challenged by our forecasting, we haven’t had a pandemic before so how do we forecast? Who really knows what is going to happen? This is a challenge for most business leaders. How do I get close to the truth?

What is an unreasonable friend and why do I need one and why do I have to be one?

Someone who will call you out and challenge your assumptions and help you make sound decisions. Someone a little distant but who knows your business can help put things in perspective. Being close to your business can mean sometimes it’s hard to see the wood for the trees. In today’s environment, we won’t have all the information we would like so we need to take a different perspective to help make the best use of the information we do have.

Why do we need to BE an unreasonable friend? An unreasonable friend doesn’t have to be outside your business. You can support other people in your team by challenging assumptions and decisions. Of course, it takes a high functioning team without ego to take an unreasonable friend in the right way without people getting defensive or upset. There is no time for ego at the moment and no time to be precious. We need to all take every opportunity to improve our decision making and our unreasonable friends can help us. Keep mind that sometimes you won’t like what you hear, but that’s the point.

Sometimes I’m operating without clear lines of sight, forecasting is hard and important decisions have to be made. I am looking for any way to help ensure my decisions are effective. Navigating a business is tricky, uncharted waters mean I don’t know what is ahead of us and limited visibility means I have to act quickly, I no longer have the luxury of time and the unreasonable friends in my team are helping me.

Here are some tips for getting better information for making good decisions:

  1. Get close to the source - find out who in your company knows the facts

  2. Differentiate between Facts and Opinions:

    1. Opinion: I think we will have $120,000 in revenue this month

    2. Fact: We have 12 orders on the books for an average value of $10,000 per order

  3. Find the raw, unfiltered data - we all put our own spin on the data - if you are presented with an interpretation of the data, ask for the data, and make your own interpretation.

  4. Who can you talk to who has been in a similar situation before?

  5. Ask your team what data they need to make a good decision and go get that data for them.

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