Read a blog yesterday that gave me a name for poor decision making that I’ve encountered repeatedly in the business world.    From the soccer world, involving goalies and penalty kicks.  It’s not a perfect analogy but at least I have a name for it now. 

When facing a penalty kick a goalie generally takes a guess and dives right or dives left, trying to anticipate which way the shooter is going to go.  Go right and the goalie is successful 13% of the time. Go left and the goalie is successful 14% of the time.  Yet when staying in the middle success jumps to 33%.  Poor odds all the way around but significantly better staying home.  But the goalies don’t stay home.  They go left or right.  They stay home less than 6% of the time.   Goalies are predisposed to action over inaction when facing penalty kicks. 

In the business world it works like this.  A problem comes to light.  The leader says “we have to do something about it.”  Someone immediately says something they could do.  So they do it.  So they can say they did something about it.  And they pat themselves on the back.  A predisposition to quick action when facing trouble.

Not much thought about it.  No strategic or tactical context.  No dialogue.  No objections.  Just do it.  Entirely reactive. 

Unintended consequences result usually making things worse.

The bigger or more difficult the problem, the preference and pressure for immediate action increases. 

We all do it. Self included.  Happens in families, communities, businesses, schools and government.  Even though some reflection and dialogue or planning with others increases your probability for a successful resolution and forward progress. 

One way to fight it, is to have a strategic context for making decisions.  A strategic plan grounded in core values, core competencies, and disciplined thought/dialogue.  Then you are prepared for the unexpected and aren’t reacting. 

Another way is to have disciplined talk time or dialogue with others in a council and have ten heads advise you on possible solutions instead of just your own.  Accessing the knowledge of others to make a good decision.  A council of one just doesn’t cut it.  A standing council of other smart people to rely on for counsel and insight and accountability.  A council of peers. 

Any other ideas on how to stop acting like a goalie facing a penalty kick?