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Why we can't make decisons and get sh*t done

I started my consulting business because I saw a gap in the market where I thought I could help. I saw so many hotels, hotel management groups, and brands (big and small) having a similar problem. Simply stated, they had trouble making decisions and getting sh*t done.

Clearly, this issue transcends the hospitality space, but I saw this so vividly in my area of expertise, hotel; marketing, distribution, and technology. Almost every conversation I had with my industry colleagues about their challenges revolved around this, things like; pending decisions, vendor assessments, important projects not started, half-completed, or completed but far underperforming expectations.

After spending decades as an employee and more recently consulting with different companies, I have seen a few key reasons for this, so here is my take:

The Top 5 reasons Decisions aren't made, and shit doesn't get done.

1. Too Scared Trap (FUFU)

The Too Scared Trap or FUFU (Fear of F***ing UP) relates to decision making. I have seen vendor assessment, acquisitions, contracts, and other decisions take months longer than they need to with dozens of requests for more and more information, all because the team was afraid they would make the wrong decision. Like its brother FOMO (fear of missing out), FUFU is real! So how do you overcome it?

You need to gather the core information required and make the best decision possible based on the information available at the time. Of course, you need to do your due diligence, but you also need to avoid analysis paralysis. The bottom line, there is rarely (never?) a perfect decision/solution.

This trap always makes me think of a quote from Teddy Roosevelt, "In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing."

2. Too Busy Trap

Critical decision-making and projects are delegated to people who already have way too much on their plate (or lack the expertise), and it languishes.

"Give it to Mary; she is an awesome project manager." Unfortunately, Mary also has a department to run that takes up 110% of her time.

Either free up Mary, bring someone else in who has the ability and the time to ensure the project gets done, or table it until you are ready. Nothing kills morale more than a project that overburdens staff, lacks resources, and languishes partially done for long periods of time.

3. Too Complicated Trap

Every company I have worked for (or with) felt that some other company had it all figured out. The truth is, in my experience, this is never the case. All companies struggle with the complexity of today's projects, and most companies have systems, processes, people, and tribal knowledge that make it even more complicated. This stuff can be overwhelming, and it is often the case that very few people understand all aspects of the problem they are trying to solve for (or if it is even really a problem).

Most people know the expression/joke, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." And this is what you need to do in these situations. This is when you need to assign the right person to the project (see too busy trap above) and break it down to its simplest form. Layout the plan and start with smaller achievable deliverables (e.g., step 1: Define the problem and get agreement from key stakeholders). So many people try to eat the elephant at once and end up with indigestion. (Note: The author does not eat, nor does he condone the eating of elephants ;-)

4. Can't See The Forest Through The Trees Trap

Often hotels have been working with the same process, people, and systems so long they can't see issues or potential opportunities. One of my favorite expressions, taught to me by one of my brilliant former teammates, was "cutting the roast at both ends." If you don't know this expression, it refers to a family recipe that requires cutting the roast at both ends before putting it in the pot. When one of the family members asked why they do this, no one knew. They had to go back three generations to Great Grandma and asked. "Why do we cut the roast at both ends" Grandma answered, "it is simple, because I did not have a pot big enough for the roast."

Nearly every organization has situations where they are cutting the roast at both ends and have workarounds and approaches so ingrained that they no longer ask, why?

This is where "fresh eyes" are often a big help. The fresh eyes can be someone new, someone internal who may be from a different area that is not bound by this trap, or you can bring in someone from the outside to help give a new perspective.

5. Too Political Trap

Depending on the organization, this can be the hardest one to fix. Siloed thinking and sacred cows often prevent progress. This can run the gamut from a purchased system that is not a good fit, and people are afraid to suggest scrapping it to strong-willed long-term employees who don't want change and many things in between.

This trap is a cultural one that needs the help of management to push through. Leadership needs to ensure there is an open and fair environment where people feel that they can make comments, have discussions, and make decisions that they believe are for the good of the business without fear of being dismissed, or worse, punished.

What are your thoughts? In your experience, does this ring true? Are there other traps that you see?

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