Habitat spoke recently with Michael Feldman, chief executive of Choice New York Management.
It’s not uncommon for boards to be indecisive and put off projects, even though that can have major repercussions. What explains this tortoise-like behavior?
To some degree, it’s just human nature. For many people, serving on a board is a new role, and they may feel outside their comfort zone. Or they could be coming from a big business or corporate background and are used to having the luxury of taking their time to make complex decisions that involve bigger numbers and more people. Sometimes that’s okay, but it can often lead to negative outcomes.
Do you have a method to help you make decisions fast?
I have a color-coded Post-it system where I jot down decisions I’ve made quickly on blue notes and ones I’ve thought a lot about in pink. At the end of the week on Sundays, I look through them, analyze, and reflect. I’ve found that fast decisions consistently lead to better results than slow ones. I thought that was just me, but I did some digging and found that research supports this speedier approach, especially when it comes to small businesses.
And acting like the hare instead of the tortoise is something you recommend to boards?
We recommend it because even though it can be uncomfortable, it’s better to take the leap and make decisions today with the facts you have. The data and studies show that more often than not, waiting to make a more informed decision doesn’t mean you’ll get an incrementally better result.
Can you give an example?
Let’s say you’ve got to do Local Law 11 facade work, and you start looking for vendors in the winter, when pricing is better, for work to be done in the spring and summer. You wait and say: "Well, let's get one more piece of information here. We've gotten four bids, we've leveled the bids, we've squeezed the bids, we've re-leveled the bids. But let’s find out some more before we make a choice.” Then something comes up – as it always does – that changes the calculations. Maybe the vendor you prefer is much less willing to negotiate on price because they’ve gotten busy, or they just pull out altogether. Next thing you know it’s August, and you have to delay your work until the fall when everyone's back from vacation, and you can only get your vendor’s D team because the A, B and C teams are already booked. You’re going to end up with lower-quality results.
All because you dawdled.
The world is moving a lot faster, and it’s a lot more volatile, and the way boards could make decisions 10 or even just 5 years ago no longer works. The bottom line is that there’s never any time to waste.
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