I’m the first to admit that I am not very good at practising meditation. It’s not that I don’t aspire to a state of mindfulness, but I sometimes find it hard to “be in the moment”. It does not come easily or naturally to me, because I’m often too busy thinking about the objective context, rather than the subjective conscious experience. So it was really interesting to see this photo of myself at last weekend’s Global Service Jam, organised by the Melbourne Jam Team at Swinburne Design Factory, and supported by Deloitte Digital, the School of Design Thinking and Huddle.
This photo was probably taken about halfway through the 48-hour event. Our team had got to the stage where we had articulated our problem statement (after much ideation…), scoped a solution model, done some validation through research and field interviews, and refined our key persona, all supported by some feedback from role-play and scenario testing. We had also just completed a lightning prototyping workshop, so the team needed to decide the overall form of our proposed service design solution, and reach agreement on the presentation format. Although there was so much still to do, we were at risk of revisiting things that had already been decided, because it felt like there was some remaining uncertainty about our prototype and some of the choices we had made along the way.
I don’t recall the exact “moment” (how imprecise a measure of time is that word?) but without realising it I found myself almost urging the team to stick with our existing decisions, and work through the remaining tasks based on the information we had to hand. It was a subconscious reaction to the message we had been given in the prototyping workshop about making decisions based on “the authority of the moment”. (Thank you, Rez Ntoumos!)
Sure, we weren’t having to make split-second, life-or-death decisions under enormous pressure, but if there was any “magic” here, it was probably about being able to be in the zone – the willingness to submit to the situation, to go with the flow. Throughout the weekend, we were advised not to fall in love with a particular idea or solution, but at the same time we were encouraged to get behind the team decisions and the options we chose – partly to sustain momentum, and partly to make sure we met the project deadlines!
There is a huge lesson here, because it goes some way to addressing the dilemma that many organisations face in making and implementing decisions (be they boards, policy makers, executive teams, startups, project managers, entrepreneurs, product developers or designers….). While it’s important to have robust decision-making processes, and it’s vital to consider all available data, the quality of any decision may not rest on whether it was the “best” choice to make, because usually only the benefit of hindsight can tell you that. If, however, at the time, it seemed like the right or appropriate choice, then in that moment it has to be the best-available decision.
Of course, there needs to be governance, transparency, authority and information to support, justify and legitimise the decision. Good decisions are usually those which can be fully articulated, the reasons easily communicated, and the implications clearly understood. Then once a choice has been made, the organisation or team that gets right behind the decision is more likely to succeed in the execution. All organisations at some point make “bad” decisions or inappropriate choices, but I think more often, even good decisions can suffer through poor implementation.
I acknowledge the need to get better at meditating, to enhance mindfulness for both personal reflection and clarity of thinking. Above all I recognise the enormous value of making the most of the moment when it comes to decision-making.
Next week: Startup Victoria’s latest pitch night