Drucker – Framing Issues

This is the 8th post in this series on Peter Drucker’s book “The Effective Executive”

Ok, we have waded into so deep water here! But that’s ok! We have Peter Drucker as our guide. He can get us through!

The deep water is about how to do better at decision making. We left off with the idea that we need to see the issue before we start looking at the facts.

Why is this so important?

Here is the reason – we all are at risk of making “false choices”. We see a choice between A or B. And we agonize over which to take. But in all that agony, we never see that there is a C and a D and so on. To see C and D and the rest, we need to frame the issue before we start looking at the facts. BTW, it helps to see C, D and so on if we have great relationships.

So here is the trillion dollar question – How do we get the issue right?

If this were easy, life would be easy. So no way around it, getting issues right is a tricky business. Peter makes the following suggestions.

1. Important issues lead to rules that strengthen us. In other words, great decisions set standards that allow us to accomplish something useful. So to frame the issue, ask yourself what is that target? And just as important, how will the decision help me reach that target? If it won’t (or at least you can’t see how it would) then something is wrong.

2. Important issues fit great purposes. They fit the “why am I here?” question and give a path to doing stuff to give “being here” meaning. And that includes overcoming barriers to achieve what needs to be done. So think about what is right before you start thinking about what is practical.

3. Part of the decision is how it will be implemented. Decision making cannot be just an abstract exercise. It must lead to action or it is a waste of time. So map where you are going to go after the decision is made.

4. The decision should lead to testable results. After we make the decision, we still can’t be sure that it is right. So we need to ask what could go wrong? Based on that, we can and should ask what to look for in order to test how effective the decision was.

Steve Jobs was amazing at framing issues. In this video, we get to see how he did this in response to a challenge by a staff person on a particular decision. He is brilliant in how he states the issue, how he justifies the decision in light of a great purpose, what needs to be done to implement the decision and how to test if it is working.

jobs – customer experience to technology


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