Monday, April 28, 2008

Agenda coloured glasses

I was recently invited by the Economist to talk to a group of senior managers in Hong Kong on May 20th. As I am preparing for this presentation, I am repeatedly being drawn into the mechanism of decision making. I am concentrating on decision making at a business level, but this probably extends to the realm of the personal life too.
Are important decisions always based on objective assessment of facts or are they heavily coloured by the glasses of ones agenda. As much as I would like to believe that we make purely objective decisions, I am getting overwhelming evidence that business decisions are heavily dependent on the agenda of the decision makers. Of course the wikipedia has a wealth of information on decision making : but in the realm of business (which is NOT a science) I think the experts call Agenda based decision making as the "Naturalistic method"
In your organization have you come across Agenda based decisions. For example have you seen the decision to build a manufacturing plant in a particular location, not based on a comprehensive analysis on the core competence of the people or the infrastructure in the location, but instead on say heavily weighed by the the Agenda of "tax savings". Do you see finance professionals report an expense in a particular manner so that it best fits their Agenda?

In the business world Agenda based decisions are widely prevalent. However when the agenda based decision of a particular functional group is misaligned with the overall Agenda of the company - then we can have disastrous consequences like that of Enron, the failure of a number of banks in recent times - with the credit crises, etc.

As a parting note - do you understand the agenda behind the decisions that your organization makes. Do you agree with the Agenda, and most importantly if the agenda is against the overall good of the business, do you put your job at stake and openly question the Agenda?


Anonymous said...

Decision making, personal or official, should ideally be based on impartial objective assessment. But then, we are human beings and very much subjective. Call it self-agenda, coloured glasses or whatever name one would like to. It is a rare person who can honestly say all decisions taken are purely objective and in the interest of the organization. Even those involved in charitable or spiritual organizations and who are supposed to be impartial or without any agenda fall into the trap of likes and dislikes – may be without realizing / intention.
Yes, there are people, even though rare, who have put up their jobs / prestige at stake and openly questioned the “Agenda”. And, invariably, they pay the price for it by being sidelined or kicked upstairs! It is a very difficult choice. One has to decide for oneself which is more important – the organization or self. One also has to accept and live with the consequences!

Anonymous said...

If you must wear glasses , coloured glasses are better than opaque ones.

-- a dada from trivandrum