Sunday, May 29, 2016

Choices....Don't Bet The Farm....

Last week I introduced the M.O.R.R. idea when it comes to making decisions (Motivation, Options, Risk/Reward and Recovery). Now we start looking at real life scenarios and what went wrong.

And I cannot think of a more timely real life event than what’s been going on at Baylor University. Unless you’ve been in a coma or hiding under a rock, you know that Baylor just fired their head football coach, demoted the president and the athletic director has been sanctioned and placed on probation. The story has been developing for over a year. On more than one occasion, Baylor football players have been accused of sexual assault or domestic/dating violence. Two players have actually been charged and found guilty. Several other young women have come forward and told how they were assaulted by Baylor football players. But when they reported the attacks, Baylor leadership tried to cover it up. The Baylor Board of Regents hired an outside law firm to investigate. Their report confirmed the young women’s allegations and went even deeper. All of the details have not yet been made public, but those which have been published are damning enough. Coaches personally investigating the attacks and attempting to intimidate the victims into silence. Complete disregard of legal statutes and doing just about everything wrong in order to “protect the program”. It’s bad, real bad and there will be more to come.

So what were they thinking? Putting morality aside for the moment and just looking at this pragmatically, what went wrong? First off, the Motivation, protecting the program, is not wrong. Most often, people are motivated by worthwhile goals and objectives. I can’t fault Baylor for wanting to “protect the program”. Since Art Briles became Head Coach in 2008 he has turned the program from a perennial doormat to a conference champion. “The Program” has enjoyed unprecedented success under Briles. It’s put Baylor on the map and brought in a lot of money. Nothing wrong with wanting to protect it.

But, then we come to Options. From a moral standpoint, just do the right thing. But again, even putting morality aside, just follow the law. It’s the smart call. Following the law usually tracks pretty close to the right thing or at least starts pointing you in the right direction. On the other hand, you can choose not to follow the law. Do what Baylor did and try to handle it “in house”. In other words, cover it up.

Then there is that whole Risk/Reward thing. The Reward part of following the law is pretty darn good in the long-run. However, in the short run, you may take a hit. The program might get a black eye. So there’s the risk. Go with the cover-up and if you get away with it, the reward is pretty sweet. The program stays clean and the march toward a national title someday continues. However, there is a big risk associated with this option. If you get caught, all hell is going to break loose. Guess what? You got caught and it did.

Lastly, Recovery. And this is a biggie. Are you choosing an option that comes with a potentially unrecoverable outcome attached. Had Baylor chose to follow the law and do the right thing, perhaps the program gets some bad press and might have to be more selective in the types of players they recruit. Maybe you don’t win quite as many games for awhile, but you’re still pretty good and will recover over time. Maybe you never win a national title because you’re Baylor and you’re in Waco. But, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Baylor could not have recovered had they handled this the right way from the beginning. But, they chose the high reward (no bad press, keep recruiting bad guys who can play good football and someday, just maybe win it all) and high risk option (if we get caught it sinks the ship.)

So we ask ourselves, why would someone choose an option that essentially comes with a deadly downside risk when there is a better, more pragmatic and certainly morally upright alternative? I think it’s because they think they are bulletproof. At some level, the Baylor head coach believed that even if the cover up was found out, he would survive because of the success he had brought to the university. In addition, I think he and others involved in this cover-up, actually thought their way of handling this was better and for the greater good. The mind has a way of rationalizing bad choices by making them seem like good choices. We tend to not like making bad choices intentionally knowing they are bad. So we convince ourselves that what we’re doing is for the right reasons and, therefore, even if we get caught, it will somehow be OK. And then it’s not.

The lesson here? Don’t bet the farm. Be honest with yourself. If things go wrong, what are the consequences? Is it worth it in the long-run?

“We can’t allow our hearts to be louder than our reason.” – Sons of Anarchy

Monday, May 16, 2016

M.O.R.R. Better Choices

Do you take the job? Do you hire that person? Big questions. Important questions. As a Headhunter, I spend a lot of time discussing these questions with candidates and hiring authorities. And, this may come as a surprise, but usually I’m not saying “Take the job” or “Hire that person”. After many years in the industry as a candidate, as a hiring authority and now as a Headhunter; I’ve learned the hard way that good decisions are made for good reasons; and too much emotion clouds good reasoning. Sometimes you get lucky and make a good “emotion-based” decision, but most of the time that formula doesn’t work out in your favor.

I have a note on my desk that simply says M.O.R.R. For me it’s a reminder about making decisions. It’s pretty much common-sense stuff, nothing earth-shattering. It’s definitely something that I should have applied more often and much earlier in my life. The saying goes that good judgment comes from bad experience. True enough. I guess it just takes some of us longer to catch on.

So when it comes to making decisions, what is M.O.R.R.?

The “M” is for Motivation. What is motivating you to make this decision? How powerful is the motivation and what’s driving it?

The “O” is for Options. What are your alternatives? It’s never just A or B, Yes or No, an “either or” choice. Even if you think you’re choosing between two alternatives, there’s always the unknown behind door number three, or four, or five….

The first “R” is for Risks/Rewards. This is critical. What are the risks associated with each option? And what are the Rewards. You have to look at both sides and the probabilities of each. The risk of saying no to a potential high reward outcome is always something to consider. And sometimes the reward for a high risk opportunity aren’t worth it. How do you know what to do?

And the final “R” is for Recovery. If it turns out badly, can you recover ? What will it take for you to recover? This “R” also minds me of Russian Roulette. A game from which the loser cannot recover. Something to think about as you weigh your options.

Over the next few weeks, I will look at different scenarios based on actual situations. What went wrong, what went right and how things might have been different…if only….(wait for it)….someone had made M.O.R.R. Better Choices.

“While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions” – Stephen Covey

Friday, May 6, 2016

God Help Us

Back in February on the eve of the Texas primary, I said “God help us if either Trump or Clinton lands in the White House”. And now here we are. Anything can happen between now and the conventions or before the election in November. But, it pretty much looks like a Trump vs. Clinton match-up.

I’m inclined to predict no way Trump can win. But, not in a million years would I have predicted that he would be the Republican nominee. So who knows? Clinton is not bullet-proof and she has a lot of baggage. There are also a lot of pissed-off people in this country who are fed up with professional politicians. Thus, we have Trump. And even a professional politician like Bernie Sanders, who is out of the mainstream, has been surprisingly competitive in his race with Hillary. He can’t win it. Nevertheless, it’s amazing how many people have voted for him and favor his far-left agenda.

I always say people do whatever they think will work. It’s may often be short-sighted or just flat out wrong. But we all tend to do whatever we think will work. The corollary to this is that people tend to reject whatever they think is NOT working. Again, they may be short-sighted or just flat out wrong. But when things aren’t working, we want change. And the more it’s not working, the bigger the desired change.

We now have a 24/7 news cycle that is always spinning. Contrary to what Bill O’Reilly says, there is not a “No Spin Zone”. Frankly, there is not enough real news to fill all of the 24/7 multi-channel programming capacity. So what are called “news” shows really become editorials. Throw in thousands of bloggers and tweeters and other assorted dart-throwers and we are constantly reminded of how our nation is really screwed up. The argument comes down to who’s to blame and how do we fix it?

The Left and The Right seem to agree that The “1 Percenters” are doing great and then there’s the rest of us. If you’re a young person dealing with massive student loan debt and questionable job prospects, Bernie Sanders is looking pretty good. If you’re a coal miner who’s been laid off, Donald Trump is your guy. If you’re a white construction worker in the Southwest who’s competing with Hispanic labor (some legal and some not so much); Donald Trump’s “Wall” sounds like a great idea. If you’re an Hispanic-American whose parents or grandparents have been here for thirty years (illegally) and someone is threatening to send them back to Mexico, you’re going to fight hard to keep that from happening. If the local factory closed and moved production out of the country and now you’re working two part-time jobs just to make ends meet, “Make America Great” and “Bring Jobs Back to America” are the t-shirts you’ll be wearing.

The Presidential election will come down to voter turnout, “the un-decided” and a few key states. The Democrats and the Republicans have their core constituencies. Even if they don’t particularly like their candidates, they will vote their party conscience or at least against the other side. Sander’s followers will vote for Clinton. The ABT (Anyone But Trump) Republicans will vote for Trump. Can the respective parties get their people out to vote? That’s the question. Those straddling the fence, “the un-decided”, will vote (or not vote) according to their most important issues of self-interest. And because we have this ridiculous Electoral College system, it will come down to a handful of states. In the end, Clinton will win. But don’t be surprised if The Donald makes it close.