Make better business decisions: Preachers, politicians and prosecuters

Make better business decisions: Preachers, politicians and prosecuters

20 July 2021

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Make better business decisions: Are you a politician, a preacher, or a prosecutor?

What can politicians, preachers, and prosecutors tell us about making better decisions?

And what can humble scientists teach us about making better business decisions?

Now when it comes to decision making or getting people on board with your decisions, there are three personas most people embrace:

They either turn into a preacher, a prosecutor or a politician. 

People assume the Preachers identity when their beliefs are challenged. They will tell captivating stories with vibrant illustrations to advocate for or promote their ideasl. 

The Prosecutors identity is assumed when one person recognises flaws in another's thinking. The prosecutor gathers evidence as to why they are right, why the other person is wrong and then unleashes a barrage of arguments and pokes holes in the other's logic. If you've ever worked with one of these people, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.

Finally, the Politician seeks to influence and woo an audience. Their goal is to win over the approval of the crowd for themselves, the business they represent, or the ideas they are protecting. 

The risk with all of these is that we become so wrapped up in preaching that we're right, prosecuting others who are wrong, and politicking for support, that we don't bother to rethink our own views. 

Sometimes, this leads to us making really bad decisions for our business. Or for our personal lives.

Obviously, all business decisions are a game of risks and bets. Some fail and some return outsized gains. But the reason people make these important decisions might not be as sophisticated as they would have liked to imagine.

So what do we do about that?

In order to constantly stay on the edge of ideas and make the best decisions, none of the previous personas are feasible long term. 

Of course, there are situations and opportunities that perfectly align with being either a preacher, a prosecutor, or a politician. 

But if you stay in either of those mindsets, you never allow yourself to question your beliefs or change your opinion on something.

The answer then, is to think like a scientist. 

This isn't my theory, it was coined by someone much more credible - Adam Grant, an organisational psychologist and author of bestseller 'Think Again'.

In Grant's words, we should be following how scientists think and make decisions because, for scientists, rethinking is fundamental to their work. Scientists are paid to constantly doubt what they know, be curious about what they don't know, and update their views based on new data. 

We move into scientist mode when we're searching for the truth: we run experiments to test hypotheses and discover knowledge. To give you an example from my own business, myself and our Chief Exec Shayne, were deciding whether or not to take on a big new lease. We would be tripling our floor space and quadrupling our rent costs.

Shayne, our CEO, is an optimist through and through so it's easy for him to fall into thinking like a politician, trying to convince himself and me that the new lease was the right choice. I'm a pessimist (which isn't as bad as it sounds by the way!) so it's easy for me to become a prosecutor. 

We both became scientists when we assumed the persona of a scientist and did the right number crunching and talking to our advisors to make the right call. And yep, we did take on the new lease. That was 3 years ago and we're now bursting at the seams and looking for options for more space. Time to put on our scientist hats once again. 

I hope this has been helpful. Here's to better decision-making. Thanks for watching. 

Ngā Mihi.

Alice Moore

Co-Founder and Director of Communications
Alice is a content writer by trade and started her marketing-tech career working at a tech export startup. Alice has been responsible for million dollar digital campaign launches and sending email campaigns to global audiences of over 1 million people.