Terminal Value

Navigating Chaos

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Doug Utberg

Business Growth Authority | Technology Strategy & Resourcing | Cost Optimization Expert | Business Process Architect | Financial Strategist | Founder - Terminal Value Podcast

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The thing on my mind right now is the idea of navigating chaos.  The last couple of years have been rife with chaos between the COVID pandemic, and Russia’s war in the Ukraine.  Compound this with internal strife in the US, presidential elections, market turmoil and the meltdown of a number of crypto brokers.

One of the things that I think is really important to do when you’re in a leadership position is to make sure that you’re able to deal with chaotic situations effectively.

This is one of the places where I would (optimistically) say there is room for improvement in many cases.

Pessimistically I would say that many people in leadership positions demonstrate that they are not worth what they are being paid because if you are in charge of an organization, you are in charge of leading it forward.  This means that times of chaos are when you earn your keep, that is when you show your value or lack of it as the case may be.

Whenever things are tumultuous, you have to make sure that you have planned out what you are going to do in advance so that you can do it in a measured, reasonable way as opposed to reacting frantically.  The reason for this is that any decision you make in reaction to chaotic situations will necessarily be emotional and will almost certainly not be optimal.

In a lot of cases where you have chaotic situations, there are hard decisions that need to be made. Frequently these decisions that you made are around layoffs.

Any time that you are making a decision that is as emotionally charged as layoffs, you should really make sure that you’re doing it in a premeditated manner. Otherwise, it is almost certain that you are going to materially violate moral equity guidelines or possibly labor laws themselves.

All of this is to say that if a company has to do layoffs it is extremely unfair to lay people off in a manner that is any method other than the one that’s correlated with their legitimate value to the company. Most companies or most entities will go through some sort of process of trying to codify that.

Unfortunately, in a lot of cases layoffs come down to who is or isn’t the management committee’s favorite people which is the exact opposite of objectivity, and ordinarily, things like that wouldn’t happen.  The reason for this is that there are usually processes in place to try to inject objectivity into the hiring, retention, and promotion process.

However, when timelines are compressed, such as during chaotic situations, then what ends up happening is people tend to make decisions more emotionally which necessarily means that they will be more biased.

So the short version of today’s takeaway is that if you are in a leadership capacity or if you aspire to be in a leadership capacity, think about how you are going to make key decisions during difficult and or tumultuous times and then document that, write it down, and create a playbook.

How are you going to make these decisions?

What are the factors going to be?

Then when those times come, bring out that playbook and then use that to make your decisions.

When this happens, it will allow you to be much calmer, which will result in people being less frantic. And then two is it will allow you to communicate in advance how decisions are going to be made. You can’t necessarily say, hey, this is what’s going to happen until your management committee convenes. But if you can tell people, hey, these are the ways that we are going to make hard decisions when they come, that will at least provide people some information.

Generally speaking, if you can provide information that is almost always better than keeping people in the dark.  The information you provide doesn’t even need to be that valuable. If you tell people what you know, even if it is not materially different from what you said before, that still demonstrates that you are thinking of them and not just keeping people dark.

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