Decision-Making Part 3:

The Decision Making Rosetta Stone


In 1799, a stone was found with writing in 2 scripts of Ancient Egyptian (including hieroglyphics ) and Ancient Greek, with each telling the same story.  This allowed researchers to unlock the Egyptian hieroglyphics and understand this previously elusive language.  This amazing relic is known as The Rosetta Stone.


In the study of decision-making, there is a lot of discussion about processes, mental models, setting of criteria and more.  All of that is interesting and important…and generally far more involved than most entrepreneurs care to dive into, given their time constraints. 


So, I would like to suggest a simple “Rosetta Stone”; a way of thinking about decisions and whether you are making the right choices. 


Of course, there are many considerations that impact the quality of any business decision: profitability, productivity, community impact, product selection, motivation and loyalty of your people, cash flow, customer relationships, brand reputation and more.  But sometimes, – even many times – when making those decisions, there is more involved than just the question of whether or not it serves some financial interest. We find ourselves wondering “What is the right thing to do?” We experience an internal “itch” that makes this feel like a pressing concern.  We understand that our decisions affect others and therefore we have a responsibility to think a bit more deeply. 


Years ago, I was studying Shaolin Kung Fu.  After one of our meditations, the Sifu (or instructor) suggested there is one question that, if asked consistently, will build a powerful muscle that will increase the likelihood that one will more frequently make the right decision. (Or “a” right decision.  Many times, there are alternatives, all of which are viable.)


Before I share this question, I want to tee it up a little bit.  When I share it with people, their initial reaction often is that it is too “touchy feely “ or to “mushy and squishy” for a driven entrepreneur.  However, in my experience, this fundamentally misunderstands the power of the question.  I actually believe it is one of the most bad-ass considerations with which you can challenge yourself.    It asks you to get your ego out of the way, to not worry about what people will think of you and to just do what’s right. 


Here’s the question:


“What would Love do?” 


Simple, right?  Well…not so much. 


Let’s say you have an employee who is chronically underperforming.  What would love do? Well, the people who think the question is soft and mushy believe the answer involves some kind of “there, there” approach, where the person is coddled and given multiple chances.  But that forgets that there may be 8-10 other employees who are affected by that person’s performance and customer expectations may well be frustrated or suppliers could be negatively impacted.  When answering the question “What would love do?”, you have to consider the impact of your decision on those others, as well. 


Clearly the circumstances require some form of intervention.  But the question demands that you not act simply out of anger or frustration.  You must make the difficult decisions while remaining compassionate to all of those affected. 

If you decide to keep the person, you must make sure they are in the right position, make your expectations clear, provide necessary training and support and maintain communication with your team.  If you decide the person has to go, you need to treat them with compassion and dignity while acting swiftly and decisively.   Remember, everyone deserves to be an A player somewhere.  So, if they are not capable of being that person with you, they may find that opportunity elsewhere. 


When you apply this question to even the small questions, you build the muscle to effectively handle the larger issues with a minimum of stress.  On the other hand, if you wait to ask this question until you face the most difficult dilemma, you will not have built the muscle.  You’re more likely to engage in rationalizations that serve your narrow self-interest.


When you practice it regularly, it becomes reflexive. You find it hard to make a decision without considering the question.  It becomes a Rosetta Stone to help you interpret your own motives and to determine what might be a right choice in the circumstances. 


Try it.  That’s what Love would do.