Hug and Nudge-Making Complex Decisions with Less Data

(Vol X)

Sometimes a warm hug is the answer to our question 
and sometimes a gentle nudge is the answer.

'Hug and Nudge' is a fortnightly column with two different perspectives from two different continents and cultures on the same question in personal development area viz. 

Jennifer Sertl (based in New York, USA) and

Dr Amit Nagpal (based in New Delhi, India).

Question: As one moves from entry-level to middle & senior, in organizations, how do they equip themselves to be able to deal with new complexity, coupled to less detail?- making decisions on less, and without the fear of messing up the complexity of the solution- BIG QUESTION
A Great Question by Goodnews Cadogan, CEO, Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa

Jennifer Sertl's Answer 
I don’t want to dive into this question, until we have a framework for the long view.

Your competitive advantage is the way you scan the macro and the way you articulate your life experience in both action and words. This should be posted somewhere where its visible and seen daily as the macro environment wants to have you anchor your competitive skill to things that will give you long-term leverage regardless of shifts in technology, the economy and other macro factors.

Given this framework we always have two tasks at hand. The first is to ensure that we are constantly vigilant to ensure the way we are reading the macro and interrogating our perception. I took a deep dive on this topic with Awareness is Not Enough! with my friends at @ogunte

The second is to always be aware of how we are participating in macro homogeny as other’s personal threshold can impact our own trajectory. I took a deep dive with the power of peer impact on an earlier post with Dr. Amit Nagpal.

So regardless of your role within a company, keeping the long-view present and ensuring you are vigilant about your perception and peer influence is vital.

Now, I can tackle your immediate question. I first wish I could speak to your boss. The first 90 days that you are in a role is the most important time where your sensitivity will be highest and your ability to observe will be strong. I wish bosses were more able to ask new employees what they are learning, what they notice that seems redundant or ideas/solutions they might have from their prior work experience. See, I hope you can hear in my tone that I am not so concerned with your learning curve as I am for the culture & environment that you have entered and how others can learn from your perspective. Your value comes in your fresh perspective. After all, I am sure you have already read Blink and know that most of the time, our first impression is accurate even without proper training.

I want to remind you of the monkey experiment that showed that in groups, individual’s level of authentic response is diminished due to group norms. 

Our need to belong is more fundamental and primal than our need for excellence, so we diminish our own sensitivity so as not be outliers for the most part. Yes, there are exceptions but most organizations that I know are seeking that ever illusive innovation unaware of the strategic barriers in the way. James Burwood @jamesburwood shared this picture recently and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Because I don’t have the luxury of coaching your boss on how to best leverage your innocent insight, I have two ideas for you. The first is to always, always keep a journal. You are going to want to track what you see, what you feel, and also what you feel safe enough to share. There is the challenge of credibility. If you speak too soon you are punished. If you don’t seem prepared you are punished. I know this; I have lived this. If you keep a journal you will be able to write down what you see and what you wish you could see. I want you to track decisions you agree with that are being made and why you agree. I want you to track decisions you disagree with and what you would do differently. You may or may not disclose your observations. What I know is that we track our learning much better when it is preserved over time and I want you to have a library for your reference. Also, when you are asked for your perspective you will have notes that can explain your logic. You will be more articulate and more thorough in your responsiveness if you track by discipline and design.

The second suggestion is that you make sure you have a peer colleague at the same level but in a different environment. This person can be your accountability partner. You should design in capacity for a call, coffee or lunch at least every other week. You need a place to share what you are learning and get perspective. This must be done outside of the culture you are in.  I love this article by Daniel Pink @danielpink  I have renamed it: Why We Need Each Other

There is nothing that can help the uneasiness of the butterflies and the internal noise of “how am I going to pull this off?” I know you will. I know it won’t be easy. I know you will grow.

Write it down, design with a peer, and soar!

Jennifer Sertl

Brief Profile

Beacon of hope. Purveyor of discipline.
Global Citizen. Transleader.
Coach. Facilitator.
Co-Author- Strategy, Leadership & the Soul and Founder of Agility3R.

Watch on Youtube


Dr Amit Nagpal's Answer 

Here are 4 simple suggestions I have,  to handle the complexity, without getting drowned in it:-

Using aggregated / collated content (online/offline)-There are content services available which collect all the major offline or online data industry-wise and serve it to the clients at a price. This can be a very useful service in large and dynamic industries.

Get into the comfort zone-Use infographics, pie charts, bar charts, tables, bullet summaries or whatever personally suits you best. We all have our comfort zones here also. Recently while I was discussing “Building deeper relationships with customers” at an event organized by Delhi Management Association, I emphasized the importance of letting your important customers know your preference, be it Facebook, email, Twitter etc (where you reply the fastest/ which is the easiest route to reach you)

Sharpen the axe of gut feel-When overloaded with data, trust the guts. Even after all the calculations and tabulation, the decisions may still go wrong. Developing intuition and trusting intuition is therefore very helpful. Combining intuition with basic data analysis can be helpful in convincing the management also about the rationale behind the decision.

Using DSS summary-Decision Support Systems are popular among the top management but analyzing their reports can be very time consuming. The only possible help to save time is to have a smart Executive Assistant, who can provide the summary (and save you from the burden of loads of data.)

Give your best shot, and then leave the rest to...... but follow the company processes as far as possible (process orientation is what matters in the corporate world).

Brief Profile

Dr Amit Nagpal is a Personal Branding Consultant and Mega Success Coach. He is based in New Delhi, India and specializes in personal branding with a holistic touch. His philosophy is, "Enlarge as a Human Being, Excel as a Social Media Being and Evolve as a Personal Brand"

To know more about Dr Nagpal, visit

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