“No good decision was ever made in a swivel chair.” — George S. Patton

Business Decisions vs. Decisions ABOUT a Business:
During times of global-economic distress many business owners have been reducing their staff. The natural assumption would be that the business owner would keep his most productive, experienced and/or intelligent staff. The people left behind sometimes assume this is how the decisions were made, naturally. 
Not all people left behind believe they are still at their respective places of employment because they are superior.
People who are intellectually honest know that this is not always the case and in today’s world of business deceit and bail-outs it is becoming less common. People who are intellectually honest understand human frailties, especially, regarding the decision making ability of some of the people that they work for. For those of us who have been in the career for 8+ years we have seen this played out many times before, even when WE were the ones retained by the firm. I was shocked, after 911 (September 11, 2001) The firm I was at had two massive lay-offs. I was not laid-off. I remember thinking, “Wow, they got rid of John? John was the only one who knew how to correctly detail a curtain-wall system…And they kept Dilbert? Dilbert leaves early, everyday, and everything he does needs to be done again, PLUS , he is dumb-as-a-stump!” or “What is Suzy still doing here?? The owner likes to stare at her BUT she does not make him ANY money. Surely, he would not keep her here because she is cute??” I, myself, knew that I was still there NOT because I was any more talented than anyone who was laid-off, but because I was cheap-bottom line.  I had not been out of school that long, could not detail super well, and was still honing my skill sets.
I could accept these illogical decisions if people would be honest about why they make them. I wish some of these business owners would just confess that these are not business decisions they are making but, rather, decisions ABOUT their business by admitting, “John is gone because I felt intellectually threatened and he upset me one day…Dilbert is still here because he is my wife’s nephew…he has always been a little slow but he was home-schooled, everyone always told him how bright he is, constantly, in case you were wondering why he has the superior attitude with an IQ of only 102 and, well, as for Suzy…she just has a really nice ass and ummm…Some of the others, we are treating like a blue-collar factory, rather than, a white collar profession-we are keeping them here, simply because, they have been here a loooongtime, but not necessarily because they are super productive. We are not applying white-collar logic of keeping your most productive staff but, instead, blue-collar methodology of: Last hired-first fired.”  This is the status-quo on any North American, Blue-Collar factory/assembly line, since, all skill sets are equal, thus, time is the deciding factor.  The mistake comes in calling it a “business decision.” It is not – it is a decision ABOUT a business.  And, of course, this is not a blanket statement there are always some good people retained, some good people that go and then everything in between and absurdities and outliers at both ends: Really bad, untalented people who stay and highly-talented people who are sent packing.
The criteria below may help answer some of those lingering questions you have had, in your own firms, regarding: “Why is so-and-so STILL here while so-and-so is gone…that makes no sense??”
People often confuse these two items: “Business decisions” with “Decisions made ABOUT their business.”

Business Decisions: Are rational, yield long-term economic gain and are decisions that will benefit the business–NOT ONLY– in bad  economic times but ALSO good times-These decisions ADD Value to a business not reduce it or cripple its long-term ability to produce the product of the business, efficiently and correctly.

Decisions ABOUT a Business: Are decisions made for a whole host of reasons including: emotional; irrationality; the decisions may be grudge based; they may be based on hear-say; they may, perhaps, even be lustful-desire based or for reasons said decision makers are not even will to admit to themselves. So when you see good colleagues leave and you hear that it is/was a “business decision” ask yourself, “Was it? Or was it decisions about the business?” 😉


2 Responses to ““No good decision was ever made in a swivel chair.” — George S. Patton”

  1. rdzinen Says:

    I absolutely agree. The longer a person is able to remain at a company, the more they become part of the “family”. While this has a nice, warm & fuzzy appeal, the problem arrises in that it changes the firm from a “Business Centered Practice” into a “Practice Centered Business”. Who want’s to fire or replace someone who is part of the family? Yes, maybe they flake off a bit; maybe they never really were that good and maybe someone else would do the same job cheaper and better…but they are too much like family to let go. We’ll get rid of the new guy first.

    It’s really not that there is anything wrong with this. People choose to go into business for lots of reasons and they are entitled to run their business any way they choose. Some people are willing to sacrafice the company to save the people. Sounds honorable until you realize that in a short time the company would be Out of Business … and then not able to help anyone. At the opposite extreme are those who are all business and no humanity. Sweat shops. Everyone is a number. A means to an end. Disposable. Obviously, this is no good either.

    In the end, as with everything else in life – it’s all about Balance.

  2. Archiminister Says:

    Great comments. I am glad you are enjoying my posts. Well said and articulate, on your part. True, it is all about balance. People make decisions for all sorts of reasons and many of those reasons they are just not even willing to admit to themselves. It is about balance and in the end: Vice IS its own punishment.

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