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Closing the Gap: Why Going Quiet Speeds up Decision-Making

The concept of the feedback loop is common in systems-driven organizations, in which information about the past or the present influences the same phenomenon in the present or future1. The goal for many in business is to close the gap that exists between making the decision and taking action, what is forgotten regarding this process is the need to consistently analyze the information, and the outcomes of the action so as to modify and make future decisions that are both better and quicker.

The emphasis for a majority of leaders is on the “making” of the decision, due to time constraints and pressure to perform, this worry about time impacts their decision-making process resulting in many of their over 100 decisions being made every day in less than 9 minutes. Quickly analyzing relevant information and being decisive is a positive leadership characteristic, making decisions due to worry and without being fully present is a negative trait that causes feedback loops to actually widen instead of shrink as a result of failure to follow up, and due to lack of awareness about outcomes.

Without awareness we remain lost in reaction.

When we slow down our minds, through meditation, prayer, journaling, or intentionally listening to another, we give our bodies and our minds permission to receive new, innovative ideas that otherwise, when busy “making” we never would have heard or considered.

Seemingly counterintuitive, pausing to reflect or meditate actually speeds up good decision-making because you focus on what is necessary and meaningful versus what is distracting and seemingly important. As Bill George states, leaders that pay attention to being mindful “are better at focusing and are more effective at delegating work with closed-loop follow-up. As a result, people follow their mindful approach, and their organizations outperform others over the long-run.”2

Closing the gap in the feedback loop is important in business and is critical in your own body. When you intentionally become calm, your mind quiets and your heart can be heard. The heart actually communicates up to the brain through the largest nerve in the body, the vagus nerve, and the brain sends messages back down to the body through electrical currents via the spinal cord. Most individuals, including leadership willingly ignore the internal feedback system present in all of us, relishing instead to stay in their mind, thinking, and making, which effectively widens the feedback gap, leaving them to make important decisions while not utilizing all their available resources.

We happily state “listen to your heart,” knowing it is sound advice, but as leaders we ignore this wisdom deeming the heart to be weak and foolish, when just the opposite is true. Your heart will not overthink itself, or rationalize away thoughts, it will consistently tell you what is right and true when allowed to speak. If you want to lead others than use your mind to listen to your heart, and allow it to guide your spirit to act in purposeful alignment with vision. This manner of being is not emotional, but practical, and leads to higher performance, while serving a purpose greater than the self. This heart-centric leadership style is powerful and purposeful, and intuitively brilliant, and absolutely critical for today’s organizations.

 

-- mike

  1. Source: Boundless. “Closing the Feedback Loop.” Boundless Business. Boundless, 21 Jul. 2015. Retrieved from https://www.boundless.com/business/textbooks/boundless-business-textbook/management-8/decision-making-62/closing-the-feedback-loop-299-2161/
  2. Source: Resilience Through Mindful Leadership. Huff Post, The Third Metric, 05/31/2013. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-george/resilience-through-mindfu_b_2932269.html

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