Last week a marketing colleague at GE Healthcare was sharing with me that he needs to work on making decisions faster. He works in the financial division and has been historically known for his analytical ability and robust analysis. However, recently he has received feedback (via 360) that traditional strengths are being perceived as weaknesses. In particular, he’s now perceived as being “slow to make decisions” and they question his “flexibility.” He asked me for my advice.
Here’s what I said:
“One thing I’ve noticed in people who make good and timely decisions is that they look to get it directionally right, without analysis paralysis. I’ve particularly noticed this at the two start-ups I’ve had the opportunity to market, Centocor and Agility Healthcare. Their management team had this unsaid, yet living philosophy of getting to 70% accuracy then acting on the decision.”
5 Reasons to Adopt the 70% Right Doctrine
- No one really has the time or the resources to get decisions 100% right. Ever.
- Every decision is a point in time with certain parameters (competition, market forces, client expectations, etc.) constantly shifting. So, all decisions, at some level, are outdated the longer you work on them. Therefore learn to make decisions that are directionally right, faster.
- Because of No. 2, all decisions require some modifications at execution. Meaning that final time to execution will always be adjusted anyway. So, if you know your decision is directionally right and some modifications will be needed, live with the ambiguity and adjust for it, faster.
- Being first, even if 70% right, is better than being 100% right and second – most of the time. Entrepreneurs know this and live by this doctrine. This is widely recognized as the first mover advantage.
- There are inherent advantages to first movers. According to Wiki , first movers can capitalize on 3 primary areas:
A. Technological leadership.
B. Preemption of scares resources.
C. Switching costs and buyer choice under uncertainty.
There are clearly pluses and minuses to this doctrine. But, I propose that for MOST of us, we do not need to obsess on getting to 100% accuracy on everything. Seth Godin, in his book Linchpin, refers to such people as perfectionists who never “ship” the product in their endless pursuit of needless incremental improvements. My colleague Joe (@jcamaratta) refers to this as “chainsaw accuracy.”
What we do in marketing is not “rocket science,” as sophisticated as it can be. Consider adopting the 70% Doctrine!