CBS News reports that there have been 14 federal government shutdowns in the US since 1980. Why do governments shutdown their operations and services to their constituents? According to CBS News, a “government shutdown occurs when Congress fails to approve funding for federal agencies.”
US govement: Making decisions can be difficult
Making difficult decisions can be time-consuming and difficult. Often one runs the risk of satisfying no one and slighting a particular interest group. We ask, are federal government shutdowns an American peculiarity? And if so, what public policies are in place to prevent one from happening?
Other countries avoid similar problems when making decisions
The Washington Post compared the way in which the American government manages it’s federal budget with those of other countries in its article, “Why other countries do not have government shutdowns.”
The first country mentioned was Australia. When a proposed budget fails to pass in Australia, the congressional officeholders are “usually forced to resign or Parliament get dissolved.” In looking at other countries, the journalist found similar methodologies n New Zealand, Bangladesh and Canada.
One key difference between these countries budget making procedures is that they only need an absolute majority (50% or more of all members of Parliament voting Yea or Nay to accept a proposed budget). Whereas in the US legislators require 60% (3/5ths rule) to pass legislation.
How corporations deal with making tough decisions ?
What happens when managers fail to make a managerial decision? Forbes posed this question. Erick Larson, author of the piece, “Don’t fail at decision making like 98% of business managers do.” Larsons reports upon his study of 500 business managers which found that 98% tend use poor judgement, pass the buck or kick the can down the road. Sounds a lot like what happens in the halls of US Congress.
But getting back to the private sector. Failing to make sound business decisions and indecisiveness are the antithesis to sound business management principles. In fact, Larson cited research by Bain Consulting indicating that effective decisions are associated with (upwards of 95%) with financial performance. Further, writes Larson, leaders, managers and supervisors skills in decision making are more inclined to meet corporate goals and expectations (90%) while 40% exceeded expectations. When leaders use good judgment when making decisions, “the number of good decisions increases sixfold and cut failure rates in half.”
Tips for making sound decisions
For the benefit of our readers working from home and even elected officials, here’s a few tips on how to make sound decisions.
- Jot down the positive and/or negative impact the decision will have on corporate goals and objectives
- Identify alternatives to the decision you intend to make
- Consider how missing pieces of information may effect your decision
- Project the results of your decision into the future by thinking through possible outcomes (positive/negative)
- Talk through the decision process with two but no more than six stakeholders to obtain difference points of view
- Encourage your ‘kitchen cabinet’ team to vote on the decision and possible courses of action, don’t forget to record how each member voted, why, and the eventual outcome
- Follow up with your team one to two months later to check on the progress and determine whether adjustments need to be made