Joseph Badaracco on How to Make a Tough Decision

1. The newspaper test. Which plan of action for dealing with a problem is going to work best if it’s going to appear on the front page of your local paper tomorrow? “That’s a way of picking up on all the consequences of your act,” Badaracco says.

2. The Golden Rule test. “There are a lot of different groups who believe that they have the right to have corporate officers and companies obey the law. There are the vast majority of people in most organizations who believe they have the right to be treated fairly and honestly by the people they’re working for. And there are the owners of a business who have a right to stable, growing, risk-adjusted, legal returns,” Badaracco says. “The Native American advice is to walk a mile in another person’s shoes. That’s a way of picking up on other people’s rights that you may be overlooking, because you’re under pressure to get a decision done.”

3. The best-friend test. “Ask yourself how you would like somebody who knows you well, and whose respect matters to you, to think about your decision,” he says. “That’s a way of putting a spotlight on your character [and] the character of the organization you’re trying to shape.”

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