Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New CEOs -- Trust Your "Gut", Make Decisions ... and Move On

You may recall the 2005 book "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell.  Its basic premise is that "spontaneous decisions are often as good as -- or even better than -- carefully planned and considered ones."

This premise is essentially a reworking of the old adage "trust your gut."  And, having a "gut feel" that is more right than wrong -- in my humble opinion -- is essential for success in the business world.  Especially essential for success in the hard-charging entrepreneurial world where time is not your friend.  

This is one of my primary take-aways from running entrepreneurial companies (I am on my fourth one now).  Analysis and careful consideration is, of course, important.  But, I have seen too much analysis paralysis in the past.  Too much trepidation about making the "wrong" decision.  And, there simply isn't time for that.  Fear is not your friend.  At a certain point, tough calls need to be made.  You collect your data, you apply your judgment (which includes a healthy dose of gut feel), you make your decision.  You move on. 

Your gut becomes more "accurate" over time.  You see what works -- and what doesn't.  In the context of running companies, you see central high level "truths" or patterns that lead to success or failure.  You learn from your own mistakes (god knows, I have made my share!). 

Should you take that job?  Trust your gut.  Should you hire that new employee?  Trust your gut.  Should you push for more on that deal?  Trust your gut.  Should you take path A or path B?  You know the answer.  

One obvious entrepreneurial mistake -- but so obvious that it is frequently overlooked by smaller entrepreneurial companies and new CEOs -- is focus.  Trying to do to much.  Your gut needs to reign that urge in.  Pick a path ... not all paths.  Go with it.  You may be right.  You may be wrong.  You adjust.

If your gut is more right than wrong, you succeed.  If it isn't -- or if you don't trust your gut -- your chances diminish ... significantly.  

All successful companies I have seen have leaders who have this sixth sense.  They have faith in their guts.  And, they aren't afraid to apply it.  In other words, they aren't afraid to fail.  At least this is what I feel wholeheartedly in my gut ...