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A Bias Towards Action

Four strategies for making decisions and taking action in urban design and placemaking.

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Image: this is a direct challenge to our planning system?

Posted by: Andrew Hammonds

Thanks to: Genius Squared Trainings and Michael Hyatt

Many Internet Startups have a "bias towards action". We have already blogged on How internet startups reinforce the value of prototyping for urban design and placemaking. With a bias towards action, they focus on making things happen without all the information or a completed product. Because they are small they can learn from their mistakes, act quickly and change.

I hear you thinking - this is OK for small firms but my large 'place influencing organisation' can't make decisions quickly.

Maybe size dosen't matter! The Former Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of State, Commander of the U.S. Army Forces Command Colin Powell uses a two part process to Decision Making:

Part I: "Use the formula P=40 to 70, in which P stands for the probably of success and the numbers indicate the percentage of information acquired."

Part II: "Once the information is in the 40 to 70 range, go with your gut."

This is about balancing data and information gathering with your instincts. Learn to trust your gut (which is about trusting your experience). Any less than 40% would be careless and any more than 70% means its too late and the opportunity has passed by.

Four strategies for making decisions and taking action in urban design and placemaking:

1. Decide from where you want to be not where you are at

As Michael Hyatt suggests, having a clear vision is essential to your organization's health. It exists to get something done. Your job is to take it there. If you aren't clear about the destination, you are going to end up lost—or, at best, side-tracked. You must figure out the vision, before you can determine the strategy. Imagine yourself being at your destination and operate from that place. It's much easier to see the path to the top of the mountain when you are looking down from the top versus looking up from the bottom.

2. Have a plan to get from point A (where you are now) to Point B (where you want to be)

By emphasizing vision, we am not suggesting that strategy is unimportant. Strategy is critical. Picking the right path is the essence of strategic thinking. The best strategies achieve the vision with the least amount of risk and in the most economical, efficient manner possible.

3. Bad decisions are better than no decision.

With a bad decision, you get immediate feedback and you can correct your decision to get on track. With no decision, you are stuck and do not get the information to course correct. Great leaders are effective, not because they know all the answers, but because they have the tenacity to act. Leadership, as it turns out, is really the act of making intentional decisions and accepting responsibility for them.

4: Make decisions from a state of peace instead of fear or scarcity or even excitement.

When emotions go up, intelligence goes down. Decide YES and commit behind it or decide NO and commit behind that. So regardless of which way you decide, you are peaceful about the decision.

Want to know why successful people make decisions quickly? According to Genius Squared Trainings:

"It's not because they make decisions quickly that they are successful. It's because they are successful (Vision, Character, Integrity, Discipline, Resilience, Wisdom) that they can make decisions quickly."

So next time someone criticises one of your decisions tell them "No worries, I have a bias towards action and this is part of my feedback loop!"

Friday 12 October, 2012

Placefocus links:  Place AspirationPlace deliveryConsider feasibility and delivery 

Relevant Blogs:  How internet startups reinforce the value of prototyping for urban design and placemaking

We consistently receive positive feedback about discussion among participants in our training courses in urban design and placemaking. While there are common qualities to the places we like, our own views matter. As suggested by participants, we have started this blog to continue this discussion on-line. The comments section of each blog provides the opportunity, so don't be bashful. Speak up! Particularly if you disagree with us. If you are reading this in our email then click on the hyperlink in the blog heading. This will take you to our website. 

 

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