Thursday, October 15, 2020

Two Quite Different Questions that Begin: "What's the Worst Thing..."

Source:  The Clorox Co.
The Wall Street Journal recently ran a feature on the new CEO of Clorox, Linda Rendle.  She has become one of the youngest Fortune 500 CEOs.  Toward the end of the article, Rendle describes how she approaches making tough decisions regarding potentially bold new initiatives.   She reflects, in part, on her work years earlier launching the Green Works line of cleaning supplies.  

Ms. Rendle said she recalls feeling nervous ahead of the 2007 Green Works meeting, having mentally laid out an argument for why the company should implement a widespread rollout of the brand instead of the limited, niche launch executives were planning. At the time, so-called green cleaning products were a minute part of the mainstream market.

“Before I do anything that’s hard, I say: ‘What’s the worst thing that will happen if you do this?’” she said. “And: ‘What’s the worst that will happen if you don’t?’”

In my experience, many managers ask themselves the first question about the worst case scenario.  However, they don't pose the second question.  What is the cost of inaction?  Could we miss a terrific opportunity? Will rivals gain the upper hand?  I think managers should follow Rendle's lead here.  They must ask themselves both questions when approaching tough decisions about high stakes, risky new initiatives. 

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