The anatomy of a big decision

Written by David Waller Tuesday 05 September 2023
As a leader, it’s natural to need to make big decisions. But how should we make these in times of pressure, with various others involved? We heard from two managers about their experiences
Picture of a person next to labels next to them saying 'head' 'heart' and 'gut'

People may make a big move in a split second, but reaching that point may require some heavy cogs to turn – whether that’s drawing decision trees, summoning the brain trust, or pacing a dark and empty living room in the depths of a sleepless night. Here, we dissect two very different decisions by a pair of managers, and hear what shaped them…

In 2016, Andy Parr, a former police officer, was an intelligence volunteer working in Afghanistan. His task there was to mentor a colonel in the country’s own police force. But when he became aware of “significant issues and wrongdoing, which was resulting in loss of life”, Andy found himself facing an enormous decision: should he make these issues known to official channels? 

“It was the biggest decision of my life,” he says, casting his mind back over all the potential ramifications. “People’s lives were in the balance, first and foremost. Then there was my own professional responsibility, and how it could impact me and my family, subject to any inquiry that would be made.” 

Whistleblowing may well be one of the most extreme forms of decision making there is. A person develops a growing sense of misalignment between what should be happening and what actually is. They may then have the dawning realisation that it’s their responsibility to act – coupled with the awareness of the vast and severe impact of their actions either way. 

And then they press the button. 

Want to learn more about the decision-making process behind two managers’ big decisions?


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