The Best Answer to Many Business-Related Questions

Decision making is a key role for leaders.  Whether you are the leader of a youth sports team or the CEO of a Fortune 100 firm, making decisions will occupy much of your time.  One of the major challenges in making these decisions is understanding what process to use and also understanding which tools are the best for a given situation.

Abraham Maslow is given credit for using the phrase “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”  Many decision makers have limited tools for decision making and as a result they are limited in the creativity and vision they could employ when making the optimal decision.  As a result of this kind of limited thinking, I have always tried to learn new ways to approach decisions and also like to learn multiple ways to view or measure a given situation.

My family knows me well and they often cringe when they ask a question.  The reason for this is my common answer can be “It depends”.  While this seems to be evasive, there is substantial truth in the value of this answer.  Based on the tools an individual has, they may see only one or two answers to any problem.  In many cases this is fine, but in some of the more complex issues that leaders deal with, having a variety of approaches, or tools, can mean the difference between repetitiveness and creative genius.

As a Scouting leader and the father of two Eagle Scouts, I know the value of a knife.  The Swiss Army Knife has always been one of my favorites because it provides methods for dealing with many issues that arise on the trail.  in the same manner, I want to be viewed as a “swiss army knife” when it comes to dealing with leader and organizational issues.  Rather than only have one or two ways to view or approach an issues, I want to be someone who can view and assess the issues from multiple perspectives.

My encouragement to you is to be wary of those who are “hammers” in their approach to solving problems.  Anyone can be a hammer.  The real value is finding trusted advisors who know which tool to use, when to use that tool, and also to understand when they do not possess that tool.I would like to think that I have gotten wiser as I have gained experience and as a result I say “No” to more opportunities now that I used to.

You too should consider when you have the best answer and when you do not.  This is a sure sign of wisdom.