I Might Already Know The Answer

This week, I struggled deciding on a decision (go figure). There are a few sensitive business decisions we must make at PizzaPlex, and those are great candidate questions – but I decided I would not publicly outline my decision-making process for those decisions. I do commit to trialing this method for those decisions, to see where the method leads me.

For this exercise, I followed the hint to write this narrative as if I were a consultant, making a decision for someone else. As soon as I assume that consultant character, I am convinced I already know the answer. However, perhaps going through this process of making impartial recommendations will actually encourage Alessandra (this consultant’s client) to take action on the outcome.

Making Alessandra’s Decision


  • Goals: Alessandra’s goals are to free up time in her schedule to allow her to focus on a few key engagements: her income-earning employment, her small business, and her passion for increasing access to capital for women- and POC-owned businesses. She is seeking an outcome that does not pre-commit her to new engagements once certain engagements are eliminated (or placed on hold). Ultimately, the real end goal is to make space for deeper connections and more significant transformation in her work.
  • Possible Choices: Below follow options available to Alessandra to meet her goal of freeing up time to focus.


      1. Rethink her key engagements and potentially eliminate one or more of them — her job, her commitment to her small business, her desire to establish an investing network
      2. Reduce her commitment to one of her key engagements rather than eliminate entirely; be satisfied with diluting her time (similar to status quo). She could change her work week schedule and compromise income to reduce the number of hours worked, announce a shift in her involvement at PizzaPlex, or chip away at an investing network with minimal resolve
      3. Resign from her role as president of a local community development corporation (non-profit CDC)
      4. Resign from her role as vice chair of a local sustainability and climate action non-profit
      5. Resign from her role as infrastructure committee member of the local CDC
      6. Resign from her role as a neighborhood volunteer for sustainability initiatives
      7. Resign from her advisory role with the local Global Shapers Hub
      8. Resign from some combination of her volunteer roles
      9. Confine all her work on volunteer engagements to a single day and time and be satisfied with whatever performance she is able to deliver within the new constraints


  • Dependencies: We can broadly characterize Alessandra’s options and related dependencies as follows:


    1. Adjust or eliminate her work or PizzaPlex commitments
      1. If reducing or eliminating job:
        1. Evaluate and adjust personal financial situation; evaluate and adjust professional growth plan [low preference]
        2. Necessarily apply freed time to PizzaPlex [moderate preference]
      2. If reducing or eliminating PizzaPlex commitments:
        1. Communicate plan to team and evaluate the most effective method of increasing day-to-day involvement [low preference]
        2. Assess impacts to staff and payroll [low preference, assuming the business has fewer human resources to succeed]
        3. Assess impacts to other business partners [low preference]
      3. If increasing PizzaPlex commitments: Reduce or eliminate job commitments (and follow i) [low preference]
    2. Adjust or eliminate her commitment to developing an investing network
      1. No practical/operational change beyond ceasing any future related plans or activities [neutral]
      2. Re-assess personal goals and dreams [low preference]
    3. Adjust or eliminate her involvement in volunteer activities
      1. Communicate with relevant stakeholder(s) [neutral]
      2. Establish succession plan(s) [neutral]
      3. Complete adjustments by year end to enable organizational planning [neutral]
      4. Be satisfied with fewer ongoing external connections and continuous relationship building, or ability to apply her resources to influence local sustainable development [low preference]
      5. Project extra time to commit to other projects [high preference]

The consultant didn’t make a final recommendation. Her draft is now up for public comment. But I might already know the answer.

RS – I am grateful for the space the RS imposes between the Ale who outlined the set of decisions to make earlier this week and the Ale who is prepared to make a decision today. Over the past few days and in considering comments on the post, I learned a few things:

  • The insights from writing the post were that I never openly displayed (most of) the “extra” stuff I do for me to read/review/process. I inventory them in my head all the time to make sure I don’t let anything slip through the cracks. As a result – as asked in one comment – it’s incredibly difficult for me to estimate the amount of time I apply to my commitments because I blend my work so much. Working on infrastructure topics through the CDC links to my own neighborhood, which in turn, might lead me to an opportunity to make a connection for PizzaPlex. The network of people and resources I turn to for all my work (professional, personal, community, etc.) is so intertwined.
  • I have established relationships that I can continue to nurture; my role in various organizations does not determine the outcome of my relationships. I need to detach the evaluation of the outcome from the validity/value of the decision I make.
  • I am really tired of continuously asking myself if all the engagements I commit to connect/make sense. To see and reflect on the words “tangentially aligned” in one of the comments affirmed that while I can make the connections abstractly, they are likely diluting the effect of my activities. I’m not really optimizing my time and resources – I haven’t been strategic. I’ve only been saying “yes.”

I decided that I will have a heart-to-heart with the people behind the organizations I support or lead and figure out appropriate succession plans. This is for my own sustainability and out of consideration for these organizations – I’m not giving them everything I would like to and it’s not fair to them.

4 thoughts on “I Might Already Know The Answer”

  1. Hi Ale – did going through the process encourage you to take action on the outcome? (as you said in your 2nd paragraph?

    Was there any new insight for you in going through this? If not, why not?

    It looks like there was only one line that had a [high preference]…

    Is the outcome you’re looking for a feeling of spaciousness “for deeper connections and more significant transformation in her work”?

    Why is it so hard to make the decisions to move you towards this outcome?

    Thanks for wrestling with this with us.


  2. Hi Ale!

    Interesting that only one of your options was high-preference.

    Something that I didn’t quite get a sense of through your post is the time/energy that they require from you. For that reason, it was difficult to follow the sense of impact for your individual options.

    Having said that, I was shocked by how many roles you have in the CDC and other activities and I feel like we’re kindred spirits in this sense. We’re the kind of person that is just happy and eager to contribute, but oftentimes we need to be strategic about the limited time and energy we have, understanding that giving anything up is difficult and painful.

    I also noticed how you outlined priorities in the very beginning, yet maybe 50% of the activities you listed are only tangentially aligned. Also, I noticed how you’re an advisor to the local Shapers Hub. I joined my local chapter too and we’ve been engaged in a lot of interesting work. Any chance they or the CDC can help you execute some of your goals? Or start the network?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Ale! Kind of in the vein of what we talked about last Monday, where our team helped me expand my rigid, at times binary, way of viewing the options before me, I want to invite you to expand your perspective. What makes sense for you IN THIS SEASON


  4. of your life? Up until now, you have been channeling your passion and energy into multiple activities/organizations. That’s what made sense to you and you were fine with that for a while. Some kind of inner restlessness or discontentment has led you to the point that you’re now reconsidering whether you want to stick with that approach. So, why not try something different for now? If after some time, you find that you’re not having the impact that you want as you narrow, deepen your focus on a few things, can’t you shift your approach again? Why not give yourself permission to design your life differently for different times in which you have different goals?
    As Juan Fransisco said, giving stuff up, changing your program can be painful and difficult. But think of the discontentment that you’ve been carrying with you, think of the vision that you’re trying to move towards (creating space for deeper connections, I presume), and think about the first steps you must and will take to move closer towards that vision. Then take the steps. And when you’ve taken enough, take time to look back, reflect, and see whether you feel like you’re still headed towards your north star :).


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