You Can’t Steer a Parked Car

August 23, 2012

making decisionsYou Can’t Steer a Parked Car

You can’t turn the wheels much when a car is parked. When a car is moving, even just a little bit, the wheels are much easier to turn. Try it the next time you get in the car.  And so what does this have to do with business?

Well, a lot actually. Do a Google search of “paralysis by analysis” and you will find something like 7.6 million hits. You could read every article on the first two Google pages and learn what many others have learned–just make a decision and then make the decision right. Don’t worry about making right decisions. Of course, life-and-death decisions take a bit more thought, but how often do you really encounter that level of decision in your daily job (unless of course if you are a brain surgeon)?

As a young engineer in the Air Force, I had the opportunity to work on a long-range cruise missile. This thing could travel a couple thousand miles without the aid of a human being or any outside systems–not even GPS. In order to get from its launch point to its final destination the missile guidance system had to make thousands of small course corrections. There were even very specific maneuvers during critical parts of the flight path that the missile had to perform in order to make sure that all the systems were working properly. These were the decision points to determine to keep going or abort. Whether it’s a car or a missile, you need to keep moving otherwise decisions are difficult and you can’t truly see the results of the decision.

Put the car in drive, make small increases in speed, turn the wheel to get a proper bearing, and then make course corrections. Don’t focus on making right decisions. Focus on making decisions right.


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