Decision Making 101

by Hunch on September 30, 2011 · 0 comments

in Leadership/Management

The Honorable Christopher James Christie, Governor of New Jersey and according to recent press reports a neck and neck contender with President Obama in an imagined 2012 match up for the U.S. Presidency.  Recently there has been much speculation about and anticipation of Governor Christie announcing a 2012 bid for the Presidency of the United States of America; he seems to be a galvanizing force, primarily to fiscal conservatives and moderates.  While I’m not an expert on Mr. Christie’s tenure as governor I do remember a bold decision to keep from throwing good money after bad for a tunnel project; while I’m sure the tunnel would have benefited the state the immense fiscal burden and overleveraging certainly wouldn’t.


I’m no political pundit and my assessment of presidential politics is probably as acute as my opinion as to which lip gloss my girlfriend should wear (Seriously, how are there ten different names for light pink and does she really think she or anyone else can really tell the difference?) but I am pretty good at making decisions so let’s talk about the Mr. Christie’s choice.  I think it is silly; a first term governor with national support and a party practically begging him to be their standard bearer is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  When making a decision it is important to consider two points; firstly, what is my upside and secondly, what is my downside?  Most people tend to focus on the upside ignoring the risks to much peril or focus on the downside allowing fear to restrain them from advancing.  It is important to take both in balance and also strategically time your entry and exit to maximize an optimal outcome.  This is, as I believe it, the sticking point for Mr. Christie.  If Mr. Christie runs for President the upside is becoming President of the United States of America the most awesome job on the face of the planet; one point to proceed.  If Mr. Christie isn’t successful in his bid he remains Governor of New Jersey, a job he seems very content with; this basically means that there is no downside that’s another point for moving forward.  Finally, Mr. Christie who has on several occasions stated an intent not to run still polls highly, getting someone to support a non-candidate is huge that’s three points we’re up to.  It seems the strongest case against Mr. Christie running is that he hasn’t been vetted at the national level but since he already has the approval of the good people of the State of New Jersey he’ll likely withstand national scrutiny also.  It seems pretty clear that Mr. Christie should throw his hat in for the Republican nomination but what about timing?  As I just said I suspect that Mr. Christie is biding his time until 2016 allowing a very popular president to pass from the landscape without a clear successor.  This sounds like sound strategic thinking except once you consider two facts; one, that President Obama’s approval rating is low and seems to be declining further and two, that Mr. Christie’s own approval and support are so high that they don’t have much direction to go in but down.  That’s right it is impossible to consistently sustain high marks; whether in business, politics, or anywhere else consistent high performance while always appreciated dulls overtime.  If you consistently outperform a structural shift in expectations occurs and your outsized performance becomes your norm so any slight decline that still holds you above 98% of your peers is suddenly shirking or slacking.  Moreover as applied to Mr. Christie’s case he can’t be more popular; for that to happen New Jersey would have to drastically improve economically but that can’t happen without fundamental strength and with economic concerns spanning the globe from consumers to governments it will take a global rally to provide the consumer confidence, liquidity, and jobs growth to lift New Jersey’s economy enough to raise approval ratings.  If Mr. Christie is in some way able to accomplish this it likely won’t occur in a vacuum and the U.S. economy will rise also lifting President Obama’s approval also.  Overtime static conditions or future errors will lead a frustrated electorate to find flaws in Mr. Christie’s leadership wanting quicker and more substantial changes and his immense support will wane as it did for Governor Jindal once considered a prime Republican contender for 2012.


The point is when making a decision consider the upside and downside; if the upside isn’t worth it or the downside is too great a risk abandon the idea but don’t dwell upon it.  If you decide to precede act quickly; decisions should be carefully considered and quickly implemented as soon as is strategically beneficial.  Don’t dwell; consider your options, decide, and execute as is the case for Mr. Christie who currently holds a moral hazard advantage (upside with no particular downside) time can be your enemy.  Just because a decision is a valid one today doesn’t mean you’ll have the same relative strength next week, month, or year.  Be confident in your choices and quickly take action no good comes from waiting too long once a decision has been made.

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