- Simple questions to ask when making tough decisions
- What are the consequences of different ways of dealing with the problem for everybody who's going to be affected by it?
- Which individuals and which groups involved in the situation have rights that you've really got to respect? People may have a right to be told the truth. Shareholders have a right to good returns, and so forth. Everybody's got an obligation to obey the law, and people have a right to expect corporate officers to do so.
- The third question is about the messages you want to send about your values as a leader, and about the values of your organization. Often in these tough "right vs. right" conflicts, people are really watching closely, and you're sending messages about your character and the character of the kind of organization you're trying to create.
- And the final question is what's going to work. It's Machiavelli's question. You've got to be practical. You can't simply tote up consequences, and dwell on rights, and think about your character.
- You need something that's going to actually make a difference, and so you've got to think about that question in conjunction with the other four.
- The newspaper test: Ask yourself what plan of action for dealing with the problem in front of you is going to work best if it's going to appear of the front page of your local paper-let's say, tomorrow. That's a way of picking up on all the consequences of your act, and it's a way of looking at things in this kind of pragmatic, Machiavellian, what's-really-going-to-work sense.
- The Golden Rule, or the Native American advice to walk a mile in the other person's shoes. That's a way of picking up on other people's rights that you may be overlooking, because you're the decision-maker, you're in a position of authority and you're under pressure to get a decision done. And the final question has different versions.
- The best-friend test. Ask yourself how you would like somebody who knows you well, whose respect matters to you, to look at you a few years down the road, and think about how you made the decision. That's a way of really putting a spotlight on the character issues-your character, the character of the organization you're trying to shape.