Why Good Decisions Fail Implementation and what to Do about it?

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A mediocre decision that is well-implemented is worth much more than a good decision that is either not or that is badly implemented. This is quite simply because it is only through implementation that ideas may finally come true. However, implementation is almost always the weak link and there is a reason for that.

An enormous amount of intellectual horsepower has been invested so that humans be supported in making good decisions effectively. A lot of human knowledge and wisdom has been invested in getting to know how things work and a lot of different viewpoints have been offered, for even the slightest details, in every domain. This is why continuous learning is praised by many as a key to good decision making. However, this is still not enough for making a good decision. Different people perceive reality in a different ways. And this is why good decision-making requires bringing together different viewpoints. That, of course, requires a lot of respect in other opinions and a lot of capability in harnessing the relevant conflicts. But these are only conflicts of opinions, the harnessing of which ultimately creates a learning environment. An effective decision-making process therefore requires freedom of opinion, freedom of expression… it requires democracy. Implementation however is a whole different story!

Implementation has to be efficient. During implementation there have to be no more point of views. No more discussions. Implementation therefore needs dictatorship. But unfortunately this is not what happens in reality and here is why. Implementation requires the cooperation of people and groups that may not have participated in the decision at all. It is therefore not their decision. They have only called upon to implement it despite the fact that they do not own, they do not understand it. But this is still not the whole story. For a decision to be implemented efficiently, there are three ingredients that are necessary. First of all authority, namely the right to decide on a certain course of action, has to be present. Such a right alone, however can do nothing. Cooperation, or power, is also important by those whose cooperation is necessary. Finally, knowledge, or influence, is absolutely necessary too. All those ingredients brought together can make sure that a decision would be implemented. But there is a trap…

Implementation would result in a new reality. However, new realities do not necessarily serve the interests of all. Some of those interests may in fact be undermined. And conflicts of interest are much stronger and persistent than conflicts of opinions or conflicts of viewpoints. At the same time, they are mostly unspoken… And in this way they have the power to undermine implementation in all sorts of ways, without even being noticed! In such a case, instead of bold implementation, endless discussions take place, with no visible ending… Implementation therefore demands trust that all interests will converge in the long-term. However this is easier said than done. There is however a way out…

When making a decision, one should make sure that a lot of different viewpoints be represented in it, so that it be a good decision. However, it is even more important that the required authority, power and influence should participate in the relevant process. And it is of utmost importance that the level of the coalesced authority, power and influence that participates in the decision-making process is as much as the task itself requires and not less. Only when that happens, only when all interested parties participate in the process and only when they see the interests that sacrifice in the short-term are respected in the longer one, only then implementation can take place efficiently with no more discussions. And when that happens, the level of trust increases, which makes implementation of even more demanding decisions possible!