There’s a great bumper sticker that proclaims: “Mild-mannered women rarely make history.” The same sentiment applies in business. Leaders who don’t make tough decisions don’t have much impact. But those who play it safe and avoid making waves with the decisions they make only get part of what they want. They don’t make waves. What they do simply doesn’t affect anyone around them. The problem is, they don’t stay safe, because the people that make the difficult—and sometimes radical—decisions do make waves in the industry. And those waves swamp the boats of the timid souls.
Of course, just because a decision is tough, counter-intuitive, or even radical doesn’t make it a great decision. It’s true that you can’t achieve greatness without boldness, but simply being bold is not a guarantee of greatness. How do you make bold decisions that are also the right decisions?
One of the best ways I can think of is to study some of the greatest business decisions ever made. When you do, you discover that these decisions that changed the business world as we know it weren’t made in a vacuum. They weren’t made frivolously or without understanding the business environment of the day.
In their book, The Greatest Business Decisions of All Time, Verne Harnish and the editors of Fortune take a fascinating and insightful look at how companies such as Apple, Ford, IBM, Zappos, Microsoft, GE, 3M, and others made radical choices that changed the course—not only of their businesses—but of whole industries.
As you read through these stories, you’ll get the “story behind the story” and catch a glimpse into the thought processes leading up to the decisions that changed the way some of today’s top leaders think and act. I highly recommend reading this intriguing look at how some of the biggest “wave-makers” in business arrived at the decisions they made.
As business leaders we all make decisions every day. Not all of them are huge, life-changing decisions, but some can be. What are you doing to prepare yourself so that when those potentially life-change decisions come, you’re ready to make a great decision?