by Merlin Hernandez

In the business world, a high value is often placed on being able to make expedient decisions. The “time is money” imperative has imposed a bias where competition to be first has emerged as the cornerstone to gain the highest rewards in the short-term. There is also the assumption that the “superior” mind is able to synthesize information quickly to arrive at accurate decisions. The benefits to be derived from speed have therefore become culturally valid. The alternative view is that a collective decision could clutter the process by introducing issues that would serve to extend time-frames and delay rewards.

Being first is believed to be the cornerstone of success, which is measured as the highest benefit in the shortest time. Patience and waiting are seen as negative and having a high probability for problems to emerge which would be extrinsic to the time-benefit standard. Because immediacy is the underlying value and rewards are computed in the short-term, the recognition factor for expedient decision-making is high. But is that a good thing?

Globalization has indeed changed the rules of the game with fast changing environments and hypercompetitivity. Decision-making may have a wider range of inputs with implications of greater reach that require in-depth analysis of multiple variables. Quick decision-making of an intuitive nature effectively denies the complexity of global business activities, and the variety of participant interests in the international environment. Businesses that maintain a reliance on time-benefit values instead of multiple perspectives to their decision-making will fail to attain the level of meaningful insights necessary for a long-term strategic outlook.

The strategic use of patient reflection in a non-linear and more holistic way tends to bring greater balance and is less susceptible to a narrow perspective in decision-making. It means taking the time to gather information, and reflecting on it before arriving at a possible decision. But even then, decisions are not seen as finite. They remain elements in a process to be re-visited, re-strategized, and re-determined in the recognition that things can change and the process itself must be open and flexible in order to effectively respond to those changes.

Decisions that emanate from a more reflective and analytical process recognize that there is an organic dimension to problem-solving and, in the continuum of business relationships, the building-blocks to those decisions are never static. Employing multiple perspectives from different stakeholders in the decision-making process encourages a more analytical approach to arrive at a range of options that will also speak to identified contingencies. It is more about listening and understanding; and then choosing an optimal solution while still keeping some options open.