Settle the Debate

settle-the-debate

I watched this episode of This Week In Startups yesterday where Jason Calacanis interviews Glenn Kelman, CEO of Redfin. Kelman shares several key learnings and advice for entrepreneurs and leaders, so it’s worth watching the episode.

The advice that stood out to me the most is that sometimes the team just needs someone to make a decision. As a leader, when you see your team paralyzed in an ongoing debate, you need to step in to settle the debate by making a decision – not necessarily because you know that the decision that you’re making is the right one, but because the team just needs a decision to be made in order to move forward. I’ve seen this so many times. There are no clear answers in business. And, teams can get wrapped around the axle debating based on data, experience and even opinion. Leaders need to feel comfortable stepping in to settle the debate – even if they don’t know they have the right answer.

This reminds me of Colin Powell‘s rule of thumb when making tough decisions: you should have no less than forty percent and no more than seventy percent of the information you need to make the decision. If you make a decision with less than forty percent of the information you need you are shooting from the hip and you will make too many mistakes. If you get more than seventy percent of the information you need to make the decision then the opportunity has usually passed and someone else has beaten you to the punch. You need to be comfortable making the decision with forty to seventy percent of the information you need to make the decision, and then go with your gut. Lean into your intuition. Many times it will be wrong, but often it will be right. And, either way, the team moves forward and learns from the decision.

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