As attorneys, we find ourselves from time to time being called upon to guide clients through business situations that require skills more akin to a consultant than a legal advisor.
In that role, I find the following advice helpful:
Understanding the objective of the decision is often a key to the decision itself. There should be a business plan underpinning a strategy. The instinct of a business person gives one the ability to understand what a business needs. That is, knowing the general direction to head toward. That knowledge, however, does not necessarily impart on us the knowledge of the business’ prime destination, or what is needed to get there. It is these objectives that the business person needs to understand in order to identify the destination, and it is our job as counselors or consultants to assist in framing and defining these objectives.
Often I find business people perceiving a need, and then making decisions without knowing what the objectives of the decision are. For example, a business person may recognize that the business needs marketing assistance. They have not, however, determined exactly what they hope to achieve from the marketing assistance. Is it brand awareness in order to strengthen an existing customer base?, or is it to try and leverage the existing brand into expanding revenues for a new product line or service? What is the actual game plan, the destination? Without defining the objectives, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to prepare a job description; identify the line of command and responsibility; and insert accountability for performance issues. The end result inevitably becomes a failure on the part of the business to execute on its ideas, which results in the squandering of financial resources, and a loss of the resource of time. It should be noted that people will perform to their capabilities and their training. It is up to management to guide that performance toward the intended goal, and not to expect successful performance toward an undefined goal. If the goal is unknown, it is not possible to guide one’s personnel toward anything but failure, and that is management’s failing, not personnel’s. Such management is akin to programming an address into a GPS system, and when the GPS system guides you to the address that you programmed in to the system, blaming the GPS system for taking you to a place to which you did not want to go. Businesses need to accept the responsibility of their own decision-making, and clearly define their objectives, so that the GPS system can lead them to the intended destination.
Never make a decision, embark on a venture, or a course of conduct without understanding what you hope to achieve from the decision/course of conduct. You cannot know that you have reached your destination, achieved a profitable result, or even whether you are going in the right direction if you do not know where your destination is.