Start with what is right rather than what is acceptable.
One has to start out with what is right rather than what is acceptable precisely because one always has to compromise in the end. But if one does not know what is right, one cannot distinguish between the right compromise and the wrong compromise—and will end up by making the wrong compromise. I was taught this when I started in 1944 on my first big consulting assignment, a study of the management structure and management policies of the General Motors Corporation. Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., who was then chairman and chief executive officer of the company, called me to his office at the start of my study and said: “I shall not tell you what to study, what to write, or what conclusions to come to. My only instruction to you is to put down what you think is right as you see it. Don’t you worry about our reaction. And don’t you, above all, concern yourself with the compromises that might be needed to make your recommendations acceptable. There is not one executive in this company who does not know how to make a compromise without any help from you. But he can’t make the right compromise unless you first tell him what ‘right’ is.”
The executive thinking through a decision might put this in front of him- or herself in neon lights.
ACTION POINT: Define an outcome for the decision in the previous reading that would perfectly satisfy your requirements.
The Effective Executive
* Source: The Daily Drucker by Peter F. Drucker