I am one of the most decisive people I know. I know immediately how I feel about almost any question. It’s a weird quality and it comes from a mix of gut reaction and a quick but careful weighing of the odds. But there are few decisions I regret, even if the outcome isn’t what I hoped for because I know that I considered the odds as well as I could. And because I make many decisions at work, I am pretty easy going about decisions in my personal life. I don’t care what restaurant I meet friends at or what movie my family watches.
What was most interesting to me about this exercise was thinking through my own decision making process. Here’s a recent decision I made that followed a process similar to what is outlined in the prompt:
Goal: To start an annual poetry day beginning with Naomi Shihab Nye, the Palestinian-American poet. Include a mix of poetry writing with elementary kids as well as a contemplative event focused on reclaiming language.
Possible choices: This opportunity came up in July and we were working to include Franklin and Marshall, a local college that we often partner with, as well as a local prep. school. October worked as a date for all of us, but it was there enough time for us to properly plan and market a series of events?
- We could wing it and hope for the best. While this sounds unwise, we have a mailing list of more than 17,000 people, an eblast list of more than 4,000, and a pretty good publicity machine. With F&M and the prep school on board, our potential audience grew significantly. But there was real cost to bringing her and we needed to do a lot of planning in a short amount of time.
2. We could keep it simple and just do an evening event. We do these events regularly and have hosted Anne Lamott, Krista Tippet, Father Boyle, Rachel Held Evans to name a few, here at the PRC. We typically have them speak at a big evening event and then take lots of time for questions and answers. Calibrating their speaking fee with the number of tickets I think we can sell is a pretty careful formula.
3. We could wait until October 2020 to do a two-day event that incorporates all of the elements we want to include and give us multiple events which allows to spread the cost/risk. It would also give us more time to promote the event and include additional partners like local public school districts. It would mean that staff and I were less stressed as well.
My normal instinct is to charge ahead with a project like this. Waiting, when we have partners lined up, when we have exciting ideas, can frustrate me. But we decided to wait. This is one of the few decisions I’ve made recently that I question. But I’m also relieved that we didn’t try to cram this into an already packed fall. We will bring Naomi next year, I hope.
RS: Thanks, everyone, for your comments! It’s always so helpful to hear from everyone and reconsider my assumptions in the first post. While October was the original date, April, which is national poetry month, could also work. It might be a little tricky with school ending but doable.
I should have said that while I’m very decisive, I think team work is really important and whenever I can, I work to make decisions as a team. I always assume that my co-workers have a different and often better solution than I do. But sometimes someone has to decide and if that’s me, I know that I can quickly. I see a lot of bookkeeping clients agonize over a decision that often only gets harder the longer they wait.