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Tag: "decision-making"

CEO for a Day

A Simple Decision Making Tool: What if I Were CEO for the Day?

CEO-for-a-DaySometimes I find myself thinking inside the box too much. I automatically enforce rules and behaviors based on what I believe an organization would do as opposed to what it actually could do in a situation. For example, it is easy to think that your company would never “buy in” to your idea and execute them. You may think that there is no time, no resources or no to a whole bunch of other things.

The truth is what a company does or does not do is usually up to people like you.  A good idea is hard to beat down. The difficulty is finding the mindset to help break out of our everyday self-imposed box. I have a technique I use called “What if I were the CEO”.


If you were “King for a Day”, you might not have to answer to others and face fewer challengers. This is not necessarily a helpful decision making perspective.   Unlike the King, the CEO has owners, internal staff and external staff to answer to on a daily basis and is always dealing with repercussions. However, the CEO can still help steer a company to start a new initiative and execute on the “right idea” at the “right time”. For a decision-making perspective, I like to look at something and ask, “If I were the CEO, how would I consider this problem? Could I direct some of the company’s resources to make it happen?”

I give you a mythical instance. Say you work at a custom software development company and your client (who has been a long-term partner) wants something done in less than a month. Although you think it should take six weeks, the client is coming to you with that expectation. Do you agree to the gig, try to find a way to solve the problem, and then tell them “Hey, it will actually be six weeks the way we have it planned — or we could do two weeks with half functionality.”

Or do you sit back and really try to make sure you are thinking about all of the opportunities. If you were the CEO, is this client worth more than the standard answer? Will this affect your reputation as a business? Can this be more than a vendor relationship? Is this really the business you are in and not something that got mangled in the sales process?

Now, you are truly looking at all of the options. What if you could shrink the schedule by adding more people even if it was on your own dime? (Mythical Man Month people get in that line over there, but some problems can be addressed with man power if you manage and architect correctly.) Can you do that with more people, different people, partnering with another firm, working in a completely new way to achieve the outcome? Do you contemplate redefining the engagement with the client as a true partner between businesses as opposed to a transaction? What would you learn? What options might this create?

Thinking along these lines has helped to remove my own mental obstacles. It generates creativity without irresponsibility. The goal is to come up with more than just the standard answers and then see if you can validate them with your client and your management. But what if you acted like you were CEO for today?  Could you make a difference?