Thursday, December 15, 2011

Make a decision - even if it's wrong!

(Originally posted: October 6, 4:14 pm | (permalink) | (0 comments))

“Make a decision – even if it’s wrong,” ordered my supervisor Jeff.

“Huh?” I’m thinking to myself. Surely he’s joking! I was new to managing contracts for the Army, very earnest and in awe of my responsibilities. This is millions of taxpayer dollars that I’m responsible for spending wisely. I want to be *right.*

“No, really,” Jeff continued. “Right now, you have 4 contractors standing around, at a couple hundred dollars an hour, while you’re waiting to make a perfect decision. Recovering from a wrong decision would be cheaper than this. So do something. Tell them go, or no go, and let’s move on.”

Detail-oriented engineer that I am, it took me a while to wrap my mind around his approach. There are, I’ve learned, in contract management as in life, many circumstances where he’s right. Today is one of them.

We’re snugly anchored in a harbor in Solomon’s. Still here, while the chilly wind blows. Anxious to move on, but this is Day 3 in this anchorage. We checked the weather, and checked it again, trying to find the right balance between comfort and safety and southward progress. Under normal conditions, traveling on a day like today would be possible, though not pleasant. But we have to get south to get warm. But on the other hand, there’s still logs and debris in the Bay as we saw on our trip down to this point. And crab pots near the entrance – lots of pots. Easier to see those in flatter water, not the 3-foot chop that’s predicted.

So we listen to the forecast and the wind yet again, and ask ourselves every half hour, “Go? Or stay?” Part of me is looking at my second-guessing and thinking, I’m examining my decision to see if I can learn something about making better decisions. Because the only way to know absolutely whether today would have been a good day to travel further south, would be to wait until this evening, in hindsight. So we’ve got to make a decision, now, even if its wrong.

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