The Benevolent Dictator: Keys to Successful Decision-making - Slide 6

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Yes, analyzing data and making informed decisions is good. The problems start when analysis is used as a crutch or to avoid pulling the trigger. You begin second-guessing yourself and giving more and more thought to “what ifs,” and before you know it, you’ve lost the use of speed as a competitive advantage. The team becomes terrified to move forward, and all involved find themselves playing out woulda-coulda-shoulda scenarios. Some entrepreneurs and business leaders get stuck in analysis paralysis and consensus building in an attempt to have zero risk. But since you’ll never be 100 percent guaranteed to succeed, you’ll be stuck studying, researching and consensus-building in a circular fashion. At that point, analysis will become an excuse for continued delays and can doom a project from ever getting off the ground. Remember that you must always be moving forward — there’s no such thing as a pause button or instant replay in business.

Don Tennant has come to know a lot of CIOs and other IT leaders over the years, and if there’s one quality that characterizes those who’ve been the most successful, it has to be their willingness to make tough decisions without feeling compelled to go through the time- and energy-sapping ordeal of trying to build a consensus or analyzing the situation to death. So when he spoke recently with Michael Feuer, the co-founder and longtime CEO of OfficeMax, he was nodding so much he says he felt like a bobblehead in an earthquake.

According to Don, Feuer, author of the book, "The Benevolent Dictator: Empower Your Employees, Build Your Business and Outwit the Competition," has, once and for all, debunked the myth that the best leaders are consensus builders. Don’s interview with Feuer is posted here, but this excerpt from their conversation will give you an idea of where Feuer is coming from:

I can remember from my OfficeMax days, I loved the company except for three constituents: the employees, the customers, and the investors. Other than that, I had a great time every day of my life. But I know the IT guys would get so damn frustrated because they’d have to go through levels to get through the capital appropriations process. I happened to love IT, and I would sometimes just cut to the chase, bring in the thought leaders in a given project that needed money, and I’d say, “Tell me about it, explain to me what’s in it for us.” And then I’d say, “We’ll make it happen,” or “Don’t waste your time, we’re done.” When I’d say “Make it happen,” they were, of course, very pleased. When I said “Don’t waste your time,” they’d say, “Thanks,” because they’re not beating their heads against the wall, and they go do something else.

Sounds like the kind of leader every IT worker wishes he or she was working for, doesn’t it?

This slideshow features the seven tips Feuer has come up with to make decisions like a benevolent dictator.

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