Sarah’s Snippets 2/20

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Sarah’s Snippets 2/20

On February 20, 2015, Posted by , In Sarah's Snippets, With No Comments

“You can’t make good decisions unless you have good information and can separate facts from opinions and speculation.”

Colin Powell from It Worked for Me

This seems like a very basic statement, the kind that makes you think “of course”. However, it is often a challenge to gather good, accurate, reliable information and even more challenging to separate the information from opinions and speculation.  Information gathering usually depends on other people, who have given you their information directly or have made it generally available in a resource such as a website, a report, or a book.

This information is reported as fact….verified fact. But is it? After all, how do you verify verified information? Even facts are not cast in stone, as they can change quickly in a dynamic situation.  Trusting the individual who is providing the information and yet asking him or her more questions is one of the keys to information gathering. How was the information verified? What circumstances were taken into consideration when the information was evaluated? Has the source historically been credible? And what are the source’s credentials? Also, when gathering information, be aware that although you have the facts, these facts may just be part of the total picture. This kind of questioning is not meant to demonstrate mistrust, but rather the common desire to be accurate whenever possible.

Being aware of what you don’t know is as important to making good decisions as knowing what you do know. Trusting relationships are essential to discovering what you don’t know, as is gathering all the information, not just the facts. People have to trust that pointing out information gaps is vital. And leaders must value the team member who is willing to share negative news. What is not known is often pivotal to understanding the facts and making good decisions about the appropriate course of action.

Opinions, even hunches based on experience, may be important to the decision-making process as well, because we often develop accurate instincts based on past experiences. These are not to be disregarded, but rather recognized for what they are, hunches. If decisions are based on opinions and instincts, responsibility for this must be accepted, as well. However this is different than speculation based on gossip, assumptions, and bad feelings.  Decisions based on malicious misinformation perpetuate negativity and create more problems. They also foster divisiveness and mistrust, as opposed to team-work and trust.

Everyone in leadership positions must be prepared to make decisions. Making decisions based on accurate and reliable information leads to better decisions. Better decisions are more apt to pave the way for leaders to move their team forward toward their goals. After all, isn’t this what it’s all about?

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