Short Decisions. Long Beliefs.
“Strong opinions, weakly held.”
This is a quote from internet legend Marc Andreessen about how entrepreneurial leaders should think and act. This dichotomy is challenging to achieve, but necessary to embrace change while at the same time pointing out a clear direction for your team.
Another way to look at it is the concept of Length of Decisions.
That is, how far in to the future are you committing your focus, time and resources when you make decisions? Are you binding up capital and people in huge projects with big budgets that span over years? Then you have made a Long Decision.
In a stable and non-changing environment, Long Decisions may be the most effective use of your resources.
However, the more ambitious and innovative your endeavor is and the more volatile the world you act in is, the more risky it is to make Long Decisions. The challenge here is to believe strongly in the destination but make Short Decisions on the way to get there.
In other words: Short Decisions. Long Beliefs.
A very simple way to visualise this is as a journey, towards an ambitious goal, somewhere in the distant.
You don’t know the way to the Mountain, you will have to discover that during the journey. Maybe even change to another destination midthrough! Committing to a full journey when you are still unsure on the way there is highly risky and most likely a waste of resources — something that many project leaders and CEOs have discovered the hard way.
What you can do is take aim on something that is within the Actionable Horizon — typically a goal you can achieve in 2–4 months and that you are as certain as possible will at least move you closer to the Final Destination. We visualise this as a lighthouse or a beacon — something visible for everyone to take aim towards and focus on achieving.
Objectives & Key Results (OKRs) is one way to crystallise this goal within the Actionable Horizon.
Now it becomes critical to understand what your Long Beliefs really are and how to communicate them. It is also important to clearly make the distinction between what should be a Long and a Short belief. You need to dig deep in to the fundamental truths of what you are doing. Why are you on this journey? What are you trying to achieve that is separated from the activities and output that you do? What is the impact you are seeking?
Hard questions to answer, but necessary to make as meaningful Short Decisions as possible.