Category Archives: Decision-making

Think better

Have you ever been presented with a problem and delivered an expected solution? Most likely.

This is the usual response when addressing a challenge. We employ known ideas, known methods to deliver a known solution. Those who know me, will attest that I am a conservative thinker, but I’ve been challenged recently to think a little differently. This isn’t different for the sake of being different, this is in an attempt to deliver solutions that go beyond the easily digested and expected outcome.

I do not believe we should be diverging from an established path simply ‘just because’; but if there is an opportunity to be truly innovative that could potentially deliver a shorter or more efficient route for future challenges, then I suggest it must be considered.

Case in point is the marrying of social welfare and economics. Did you know it costs over $4 billion to simply administer the social welfare system in Australia to deliver $165 billion in payments (source: Australian Government Dept of Human Services 2014-15 Annual report)? That’s a weekly outlay of $3 billion with an administration cost of $80 million.

Traditional thinking has been to tweak eligibility requirements, strengthen the compliance framework, modify or revise payments… an alternative view is to replace the system entirely with what is known as a universal basic income. At its simplest, a basic income is a common universal payment to each and every member of society, irrespective of income or employment status or health profile. This payment would be designed to meet the basic living costs and, perhaps surprisingly, is not a new concept. It can trace its origin back to the 1800’s with it afforded greater prominence in the 1960s (thanks to noted economist Milton Friedman) and has been the topic of debate periodically since. Finland is trialling this concept.

Now I’m not intending to deliver economic or social rationale for either of these approaches in this post, that’s for you to discover! I am hoping, though, to encourage all of us to innovate our thinking by exploring an alternative view to a current challenge, seeking to understand its merits or otherwise.

If we want better solutions, we need different thinking, better thinking.


Do I need an umbrella?

Looking out the window across the cloud-covered sky to the street below I made an assessment that it was not raining heavily enough to impede my lunch time walk.

This assessment remained correct for five minutes, after which the grey clouds decided to dump significantly more moisture. I castigated myself for not bringing my umbrella which I had originally deemed as not being required. How could my assessment have been wrong?

The fact is, my assessment was correct, at that point in time. Circumstances beyond my control then changed the situation.

How often do we make decisions that are relevant to a particular point in time and then become frustrated or disappointed when the situation changes?

What may seem entirely reasonable and attainable with one particular set of circumstances, can quickly become distant and improbable. This shouldn’t prevent us from making decisions, rather it should encourage us to consider what factors are likely to change and then plan accordingly.

This is contingency planning. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just considered. In my case, I should have taken an umbrella – a minor encumbrance that would have meant I was prepared for the situational change. Some things cannot be planned for, but most can! The grey clouds were the indicator that my point-in-time assessment could be short-lived.

For what situation do you need to take an umbrella?


Learner or Judger?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel “stuck”.

Maybe you, too, sometimes feel this way and want to move from being “stuck” to finding possibilities and solutions?

Marilee Adams, an adjunct professor and leadership author, explored the premise of changing the mindset of a team – or ourselves! – by considering the questions we ask. Are we asking questions that lead to breakthrough and encourage change or we are asking questions that lead to stagnation and demoralization?

According to Professor Adams, we need to consider whether we’re asking ‘learner questions’ or ‘judger questions’. It’s natural for us to ask both types of questions when addressing a challenge or responding to a situation, but without learner questions, outcomes suffer.

Judgers ask… Who is to blame?

Learners ask… What am I responsible for?

Judgers ask… How can I prove I’m right?

Learners ask… What are the facts and what am I assuming?

Judgers ask… Why bother?

Learners ask… What’s possible?

What are we asking?

Am I asking myself learner or judger questions?

We need to consider what impact the questions we’re asking are having on our attitude, our engagement, our productivity. To move from being stuck to finding possibilities, we must be intentional towards the outcomes we desire by creating learner questions focused on our goals in specific areas.

Flick the switch – become a learner!

Let Hope Rise.

Plan your life like a holiday

I love holidays.

I particularly enjoy the expectation associated with the planning beforehand to ensure we’re maximizing our time and experiencing the destination to its fullest. After all, I want to make the most of the limited time. Funny then that I’m not as diligent in planning for the rest of my life – decades not days…

Do you also find this?

It could be the excitement of the short-term adventure as opposed to the routine of the everyday. Looking at this logically however it makes incredible sense to allocate more time and energy to the area that yields the greatest impact.

The key I’m discovering is intentionality. Actually deciding to allocate time to planning my everyday world helps me remain focused. Yes, we all have our regular routine around career and family but we need to ensure we’re also building capacity for growth and impact. I don’t want to arrive at the end of my life to realise I have lived well for me and then left my kids to fend for themselves. Similarly, I don’t wish to identify all those opportunities I had to make a difference in someone’s world but was so inwardly focused that I let them slip by.

If we want to achieve anything worthwhile, above and beyond the everyday, we need to be intentional.

Intentional about what we’re inputting physically, emotionally and spiritually. Intentional about how we’re investing our time. Intentional about allocating our resources.

Where are your intentions taking you?


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Choose your price tag

With every action and inaction, there is a likely cost; a price to pay. The price to pay initially may seem large and not worth your consideration, however, the longer-term price may in fact be significantly more distressing.

Case in point is my annual contribution towards my dermatologist’s Audi. The small fortune I have paid in annual consultations and pathology reports suggest I own a meaningful proportion of his luxury car! This price, though, is inconsequential when assessing the cost of not having this check-up.

Each year has been fairly similar. A number of superficial lesions removed via liquid nitrogen, a couple of biopsies and maybe an offending skin cancer surgically removed. I have even experienced photodynamic therapy (PDT) where special light is the basis of treatment. This year was a little different…

Appointment on the Friday, pathology results on the Monday, consult with a plastic surgeon on the Monday afternoon, surgery booked at the next available spot in eight days. Now, I’m definitely not a fan of anything stuck into my body – I wince at a prickle – and I figured enduring the three local anaesthetics for the biopsies was sufficient suffering for the cause. Blood tests, CAT scans and facial surgery was not exciting me. I didn’t like this price!

In reality, this price is insignificant compared to the cost of inaction. The price I could potentially pay if I choose to ignore the problem would indeed be far higher, for me and my family.

When we assess the price that is demanded of us now, we should compare that to the future price of inaction. Perspective is needed to ensure we do whatever it is that must be done. The reason there is a price to everything is that with cost comes value. The higher the price, the greater the value.

At the end of the day, we always have a choice. Which price do you want to pay?


Image credit: slena / 123RF Stock Photo

Have you lost the budgie?

Our six-year-old was excited to receive a baby budgerigar as his first pet. Hand-reared and only a few weeks out of the nest, it was incredibly comfortable using him as a perch and was even beginning to feed directly from his hand. An inside bird, its young wings were not yet clipped and so the rules were very clear – it could be outside the cage only if all house doors were closed.

This worked well for the first week.

In the second week, our son asked if he could take the bird outside, thinking it may enjoy the trampoline. Of course, the collective response from parents and older siblings was negative, again identifying the fact it could fly and would most likely fly away. Desperate to introduce it to the excitement of the trampoline, our boy ignored the response and headed outdoors. The budgie obviously wasn’t as enthralled by the trampoline as its handler and promptly flew off. The ensuing door-to-door search failed to find the bird, leaving one six-year-old distraught with, hopefully, a clearer understanding of consequence of actions. His siblings were also affected as they too had warmed to this new family member yet were now bearing the weight of this outcome as well.

I reckon we’ve all lost a budgie at some point. We’ve ignored the facts, the advice and then had to endure the consequence of our actions. Our son seemed to understand the bird would fly away yet such was his intent, he chose to ignore the facts. Sometimes our intentions can be so strong, that we disregard the reality.

The metaphorical budgie for us could be a friendship, a career, a business opportunity or anything else we deem as valuable. Yes, we sometimes have to take a punt, have a go despite the known risks. But when the reality is perfectly clear and the negative outcome is unavoidable, we need to simply stop. If we proceed we are clearly stating we are prepared to accept the consequences both for ourselves AND on behalf of all others who will be impacted yet have had no control over our initial action. Are we really prepared to do that? Should we do that?

As a pet, it’s better for the bird to be restricted in its environment than seeking to survive in a world for which it is ill-equipped, despite our want. What’s your budgie?


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