Ready, Fire, Aim… May not Optimize Outcomes

Skill DevelopmentWorkplace Success

Aim photo from ShutterstockWhat would you do if your doctor told you that your appendix needs to come out. Without ever seeing you or talking to you.

You’d probably think they are nuts and you’d seek a second opinion, right?

We WANT our doctors to Diagnose then Prescribe.

The same is true in business and in life. As we develop in our careers we want to be known for making good decisions. Which means making informed decisions. Decisions that we can stand behind and people can trust our instincts to know we have carefully considered the options. We don’t want to be known for getting ready… then firing … then aiming.

So, how do we make informed decisions?

First we seek to get Ready. We need to understand the situation and the implications of the decision that needs to be made. Which may also include not making a decision or delegating a decision. Knowing when a decision needs to be made and who needs to make it is a skill that needs to be developed.

Then we need to take Aim. There are a few ways to make informed decisions that I like to use to help insure we are aiming in the right direction: Stack Ranking, Lenses and SBO.

Stack Ranking

This is a tried and true method that has been around for a long time. It can be as simple as putting all the options on piece of paper or whiteboard and assigning an A-B-C classification to them. Or it can be more inclusive for specific timelines, deliverables and task owners.


Everyone sees the world through their own eyes and their own lenses. Your peer advisory groups are your lenses. Seek them out to think through and help evaluate your thought processes and to do What-If scenarios. They are your sanity checks and your alternate Point of View (POV). In a sense they are your Second Opinion.


Where SBO means Step Back Optimism. This is something I made up a few years ago when I was facing some tough decisions. I was trying to think of an optimistic way to evaluate the options. I came up with the idea to take a step back… to take myself out of the situation… at least mentally. Then to evaluate the options from an optimistic POV. I was able to use SBO to sanity check myself and it worked. I offer it as a tool for you to make more informed decisions.

Finally we need to make the decision. We need to push the button or pull the trigger to Fire.

What about on the spot decisions that MUST be made?
The steps are still the same. Gather as much evidence as you can and seek to make an informed (not emotional) decision.

Diagnose then Prescribe

Decision making is a skill and an art. Ask Questions. Consider Options. Consult your Peer Advisory Groups. Then pick a target, make Ready, Aim, then Fire.

The goal is to help you make better decisions. So that you can stand out in your career.