Five Biggest Fears that Managers & Leaders Encounter Daily

decision-making, risk

One trait we see is the inability of managers and leaders to make a decision. Consequently, a number of issues occur because of a manager’s indecision. For example, a project continues to fester in development, and everyone knows it should be killed but no one wants to make that final decision.

Why does indecision happen? The fear of making a mistake!

Paul Schoemaker(1) identified four types of mistakes: a. Tragic, b. Serious, c. Trivial and d. Brilliant.
It’s best to stay away from Tragic and Serious types of mistakes. Tragic, for example, having a car accident and being injured. While Serious is a new project or venture failing.

We can live with Trivial, such as a parking ticket. and Brilliant which could be a lab error that ends up having a significant positive outcome.

Brilliant mistakes are the beginning of discovery and determining what works and doesn’t work. In product development, if you have a project that has a lot of uncertainties, it is best to break these down into manageable chunks, and to resolve the biggest uncertainties first. This approach sometimes leads to brilliant mistakes, and it minimizes serious mistakes and risks. I’m adding another mistake to Schoemaker’s four which is not making a decision, and this is commonly driven by fear.

The table below was developed by our firm, and it lists five of the Biggest Fears that managers encounter on a daily basis, including an Approach to Combat those fears, and the Outcome of practicing the approach.

To realize fast successes, you do have to make decisions. Take the data that is available, reduce the major uncertainties of the project, and determine if the company is willing to take on the project risks. It doesn’t totally need to be on your shoulders. Get other managers and team members participation, input, and buy-in. Make decisions with confidence. Decision-making is a dynamic evolving process, but it can be done in a systematic way to lessen “serious” mistakes.

Consider the Business Fit Framework® a business intelligence software tool that is uniquely-designed to inform and support your decision-making process around product uncertainty and risk. In recognition of its importance and distinction from the conventional product development paradigm, the Business Fit Framework notably received an NSF STEM Grant through the University of Chicago and has been nominated for a 2019 Edison Award for Innovation Services.

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(1) Paul J. H. Schoemaker, Brilliant Mistakes: Finding Success on the Far Side of Failure. (2011), Philadelphia: Wharton Digital Press.