1950's Sci-Fi Helps Businesses Avoid Wasted Time & Pain by Making Better Decisions
Updated: Jun 25, 2020
At Age 7, I watched a re-run of the terrifying 1950's Sci-Fi classic, The Day the Earth Stood Still. In many ways, the film, and my experience watching it, can help business owners make better decisions in today's unpredictable economy.
A flying saucer lands in Washington D.C.
Humanoid alien, Klaatu, exits the saucer to deliver a diplomatic message of peace. In a moment of fear, the government panics, decides to shoot and wounds the alien. Klaatu's imposing 8' humanoid robot, Gort, responds by vaporizing the military's weapons.
The film was horrifying yet compelling. Bedtime arrived just as Klaatu was shot. The babysitter allowed me to make a decision: 1. go to bed and relieve my anxiety, or 2. watch the second half and deal with the angst. I chose the latter.
Avoid the Expense and Lost Time of Going Down the Wrong Road
Making great business decisions in an unpredictable environment is critically important. There is more at stake with less room for error.
I have witnessed businesses make great decisions. I have also witnessed businesses make poor decisions they later regret. Heading in the wrong direction can waste years, place a business in jeopardy and become an expensive lesson of missed opportunities and pain. As a professional working with hundreds of companies over 30 years, I have observed that business decision making styles commonly fall into three groups:
1. Anxious Deciders
Make decisions very quickly, often carelessly and impulsively. They make erratic choices leading to poor outcomes. They are sometimes praised for being decisive, however, when you pull back the curtain, fast decisions are their way of relieving anxiety. They experience fear of the unknown, uncertainty and feeling out of control as overwhelming stress. They see any decision is better than no decision. The soldier who shot Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still may have been an Anxious Decider - there was no real threat, but living with the unknown caused him to act. A 7 year old, who made a snap decision to go to bed to relieve anxiety, might fall into this group.
2. Avoidant Deciders
Show an inability to be decisive. When we perceive danger, our brain's limbic system automatically forces a "Fight", Flight or Freeze" response. I have observed that In business, when Avoidant Deciders experience overwhelming fear, they tend to freeze and detach ("dissociate") from the present. A Freeze response can be brought on by PTSD or facing an inescapable situation that reminds them of past trauma.
3. Secure Deciders
Allow themselves to feel vulnerable. They are willing to live with the tension and helplessness of not having an apparent resolution. They give themselves room to learn and allow valuable opportunities to emerge, less worried and more confident that things will emerge without forcing a decision. Secure Deciders are more likely to have successful outcomes, particularly in today's uncertain environment.
Interesting Example of an Anxious Decider CEO
The founder/CEO of an electronic equipment manufacturer quickly developed a reputation for making fast decisions, giving the outward appearance of strength. His employees were encouraged to bring their questions to the CEO for answers. Those that complied were rewarded. As the company's culture grew more dependent on the CEO, their strategy grew more erratic. The CEO was aware, but unwilling to address his behavior. Despite class-leading technology and tens of millions of investor capital, the company suffered, never to generate a profit in decades.
The new economy is forcing businesses to face overwhelming challenges. Making better business decisions can help your business survive and prosper.
Give yourself permission to feel helpless and vulnerable, without a clear solution. Consider if any part a decision is helping you relieve anxiety. Remind yourself that vulnerability and anxiety are only feelings that will diminish and not hurt you. Know that allowing yourself to feel vulnerable will lead you to your best solutions. Meditation, deep breathing and body scans (see Avoidant Deciders below) can help, along with sufficient sleep and exercise. Consider seeking professional support. Your journey starts with awareness.
If you feel stuck or frozen, consider that this reaction may be a result of past trauma. Meditation, deep breathing, exercise and body scans can help. Practice breathing by taking 5 slow deep breaths - in through your nose to the count of 4, pause, then out through your nose to the count of 4. Focus your attention on your breath. We store tension and past trauma in our bodies so you can try a body scan. Close your eyes, scan your body to notice any physical tension. Observe the tension without trying to fix it. When you feel ready, pivot your attention toward your business.
Stay the course and continue your balanced approach. It takes strength to allow yourself to live the difficult feelings, but you are in a ideal place to make wise business decisions. Opportunities will emerge.
In an erratic and uncertain environment, businesses are reconsidering everything. Making your best decisions can save you from years of pain and avoid going down the wrong road. Consider if any of the three types of decisions styles apply to you and ask yourself if your style is serving you well.
Lloyd Scott & Company provides consulting that helps businesses get what they want and make a real difference. Many clients see a significant increase in revenue, profit and happiness. We combine expertise in marketing, organizational psychology and finance in a unique "systems" approach. We welcome your comments. Feel free to call or write if you have questions about your business: 856.910.7500, firstname.lastname@example.org www.lloydscott.com