Harvard Business Review (HBR) would like you to know that, in the world of business, feelings are more important than results. That’s right. In a world in which we award participation trophies just for showing up, it’s more important to make sure people are happy, rather than to make sure they do what they’re paid to do. And to make sure you get the point, HBR published a 1,428-word tome called: “How to Get People to Accept a Tough Decision“:

In case you hit HBR’s paywall, and speaking ostensibly, here are the 72 words that get closest to the tome’s point:

Decisions — whether they’re about your business or your career — are often complex, and given the rate of change in the world, are getting more so. However, if you explicitly recognize the role that uncertainty and value complexity play in making these decisions difficult, you can take steps to ensure you’re making the best choices with the information you have — and you can help those affected by your decisions better accept the consequences.

Here’s my favorite clause: “If you explicitly recognize the role that uncertainty and value complexity play ….” It makes we wonder: What if you (the reader of HBR’s pussyfooting) recognize the role YOU play, rather than getting distracted and paralyzed by uncertainty and value complexity?

A Simplified View

Granted, recognizing the role you play in the context of HBR’s endorsement of equivocation assumes a number of things:

  • You’re in charge.
  • You’re in charge of adults.
  • You’re in charge of adults responsible for turning a profit.
  • You’re in charge of adults who possess a reasonable grip on reality.

Presuming those assumptions are true — at least according to EMPATH (Executive Management Programs Antipathetic To Harvard) — you can save yourself and your company a lot of agita, time, opportunity, and money, if you do these five things:

  1. Assess the situation at hand.
  2. Consider the implications of a range of decisions.
  3. Consult with advisors whose perspectives are different from yours.
  4. Make a decision.
  5. Communicate and enforce that decision like a boss.

Is that too simplistic? Is it reductive? Is it irresponsible? Is it wrong? I don’t know. How much time do you have? How much money is at risk? How much opportunity is at risk? Once you answer the last three questions, the answers to the first four take care of themselves.

Plan B

As a last resort, you can tell the adults in your charge they’re welcome to look for employment elsewhere.

But break it to ’em gently. And give ’em a trophy.