Spooky Bad Decisions — And How to Avoid Making Them

Happy Halloween

In 1999, the number two search in behind Yahoo! was a company called Excite. Excite had the opportunity to purchase a little start-up called “Google” in 1999 for $750,000. Turns out the founder of Google, Larry Paige, wanted to sell it so he could go back to Stanford and finish his PhD.

On paper, the numbers worked and the deal looked great. Larry Paige showed Excite’s leadership that if they used his algorithm, they would increase their search engine revenue by $150,000. Per day. The deal would pay for itself in less than a week. There was one stipulation: Excite had to swap out their inferior algorithm with Google’s superior one.

Excite’s CEO, George Bell, looked at the numbers, weighed his options, and decided to pass on buying Google. Bell couldn’t stomach the thought of replacing his algorithm with Google’s — if he did, his “baby” would no longer exist! In other words, he made a fatal business decision based on his heart and emotions. And Excite went “extinct by instinct”. A year later the tech bubble burst, Excite went bankrupt, and soon closed its doors.

Google is now worth about $700 billion dollars. To quote Homer Simpson, “Doh!”

As a leadership keynote speaker, I often share with audiences how decision making is a balance between art and science, data and instincts, your head and your heart. If you rely too much on one or the other, you and your business can suffer the same fatal mistake that Excite did. So how can you ensure you do not fall into this fatal decision-making trap?

3 Simple Action-Steps to Avoid Making a SPOOKY Bad Decision

Step 1. Pick one decision you have been putting off making for a couple days, couple weeks, or couple months even.

Step 2. Draw a big circle and label it “Instincts”. Draw a second intersecting circle and label it “Data”. In the first circle brainstorm all the solutions to the decision you are putting off making that your gut, instincts, feelings, and intuition is telling you. In the second circle, brainstorm as many solutions that the relevant data, science, and logic is telling you. Then take a short coffee-break.

Step 3. After your break, come back and look at your masterpiece with fresh eyes. Fill in the overlapping part of the Venn diagram with the best of both worlds. List as many solutions as possible that combine the best of both art and science. Brainstorm at least three options and try not to give yourself more than six. (In future posts, I’ll share with you simple ideas on how to determine the best of these balanced decisions.)

Michael Veltri Leadership Decision Balance

This simple Venn diagram solution can help you, your team, and your business avoid going “extinct by instinct”.

If you have questions, comments, or other innovative ways to achieve decision-making balance, let me know below or hit me up on Twitter @mpveltri. And if you enjoyed the ideas presented here, please take a look at my leadership keynote speaker website where you can find additional information about my motivational and educational keynote speeches, leadership development workshops, and peak performance consulting: https://michaelveltri.com/financial-services-keynote-speaker