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TBD's twelve steps of executive action

The act of getting managers to follow a formal sequence of decision-making helps reduce the stress associated with making decisions. Leading the team to adopt a formal sequence helps prevent impulsive thinking or quick fix solutions that invariably lead to more problems arising later on.

Apart from providing a template for robust analysis, evaluation and planning, a step by step sequence stretches both the rational mind and the imagination and is an antidote to the impulsive quick fix or knee jerk reaction created when the mind is stressed.

The twelve steps also helps integrate the double-loop learning process into operational functioning. Crucially this means that an organisation is able to question the validity of its existing operational norms and the underlying strategic assumptions on an ongoing basis.

The twelve steps of executive action

  1. Obtain feedback from stakeholders to generate awareness of the issues as Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities or Threats (SWOT).
  2. Define the issues and identify the exact causes or sources. 
  3. Establish objectives - Action Titles. The team integrates these actions within the company’s overall objectives and operational function.
  4. Validate feedback and collect the facts - consult, study, learn what needs to be learned, in order to be able to improve things - research, analyse ­ think.
  5. Identify and consider several solutions - analyse costs and benefits of intended outcomes identify assumptions and resources available, submit findings to planning team.
  6. Evaluate each alternative solution and confirm assumptions and available options.
  7. Select one option and agree it with planning team.
  8. Communicate intentions to appropriate parties, obtain further feedback.
  9. Schedule programme of action - planning with specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timed goals, identifying benchmarks to check the progress and validity of assumptions.
  10. Implement.
  11. Follow up ­ monitor and review progress and results.
  12. Modify as necessary and repeat the cycle for continuous improvement.

Under normal conditions we tend to see that the stressed decision maker skips through this sequence. Typically  a stressed thinker starts out with step six  -  ­ some sort of evaluation of the first solution that comes to mind, then step seven - ­ selection and straight into step ten - ­ implementation.

So part of the objective of this twelve step method is to get you to follow a natural sequence that helps you avoid any of the ten mistake drivers in decision-making.

Essentially the twelve step sequence is designed to enforce the planning maxim of:
Plan before you act
Think before you plan and
Study, research and consult before you think

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