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Archive: Decision-making

Think you can balance the budget?

By putting constituents in her shoes, Purdue is helping them to see that on the heels of a massive recession that has pushed state governments to the breaking point, there are no easy choices. Helping people realize how difficult it is to decide whether to cut spending in education, public safety or social services could help elicit a more cooperative and civil discussion about what to do.

By Jena McGregor | February 17, 2011; 10:23 AM ET | Comments (30)

Obama's reshuffle: More outsiders, please

Companies with major strategic problems tend to bolster their executive ranks with outside expertise, whether as employees or consultants. Coaches coming off of losing seasons are expected to bring in new assistants who can overhaul problem areas. For Obama, too, a bigger mix of inside and outside candidates in his major reshuffle could go a long way toward balancing frank assessments and bold new ideas with institutional knowledge and trust.

By Jena McGregor | January 5, 2011; 12:59 PM ET | Comments (11)

In 'Don't ask' debate, too much asking?

It is the job of leaders, certainly, to debate, probe and not lose their skepticism about critical matters. But the opponents to repealing "Don't Ask Don't Tell" now face an exhaustive amount of evidence that doing so poses little risk to the military. Not to mention it has support from the country's top two defense and military leaders, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen. All of which raises an important leadership question: Where's the line between debating and questioning findings on critical matters and ignoring exhaustive research and expertise?

By Jena McGregor | December 2, 2010; 12:50 PM ET | Comments (99)

The art of the announcement: Cuomo's charges against Obama's 'car czar'

The timing of Cuomo's announcement will certainly draw more awareness to the charges against Rattner. And indeed, the allegations against him are serious. Cuomo may, despite claims of coincidence, have decided it was in the public's best interest to be reminded of charges at a time when Rattner was already in the news, both for his work with GM and the SEC settlement.

By Jena McGregor | November 19, 2010; 10:46 AM ET | Comments (4)

Why Rangel's punishment won't really matter

In a way, Rangel's supporters are right--the real punishment for Rangel was losing a powerful position in the House, one that took years of seniority and status to earn. In that sense, his punishment was already meted out earlier this year. The process of an ethics trial would be much more meaningful if there were tiers of punishment below expulsion that explicitly brought with them more substantial penalties, such as demotions or fines.

By Jena McGregor | November 17, 2010; 12:41 PM ET | Comments (20)

On McNabb contract timing, Redskins management suffers a big loss, too

Surely, then, the Redskins management didn't plan on throwing millions at their star talent on the very day his worth to the Redskins team might be most seriously called into question. But they could have planned the announcement so that it didn't happen on the exact same day as a big game with a top team where such headline-grabbing comparisons would inevitably be made.

By Jena McGregor | November 16, 2010; 09:15 AM ET | Comments (20)

Does 'the first 100 days' concept really matter anymore?

In today's 24/7 news cycle, and with the country facing economic problems that require expedient and immediate change, a three-month grace period sounds about as archaic as FDR's fireside chats. If new elected leaders want to make an impact, they're going to have to act fast. And they're not going to get much forgiveness from a cable industry hungry for the first slip up or political gaffe.

By Jena McGregor | November 3, 2010; 09:57 AM ET | Comments (0)

The First Amendment never protected your job

If you stop and think about it, countless other companies would do the same thing, which means invoking the First Amendment rationale here simply makes no sense. The First Amendment prohibits laws from being passed that inhibit speech. It does not, however, necessarily protect your job--and does not require businesses or nonprofits to keep people employed, no matter what they say.

By Jena McGregor | October 22, 2010; 09:50 AM ET | Comments (378)

The BP oil spill papers: A case study in management failure

A weakened presidency, heightened national political tensions and the magnitude of the spill all contributed to decision-making meddling from higher-ups. But any organization in crisis often faces the same risk: top executives want to look like they're taking swift action, when really the best course might be simply letting go. The temptation for leaders to wade in--no pun intended--and micro-manage during a crisis blurs decision-making structures, confuses front-line workers and slows down action as everyone waits to see what the higher-ups want now that the traditional process has been shattered.

By Jena McGregor | October 7, 2010; 06:00 AM ET | Comments (6)

Why a CEO shouldn't run the NEC

The temptation to send a signal when filling such an important leadership role is a risky one. One sees it all the time: rather than simply picking the best person for a job, leaders make political decisions on who will ruffle the fewest feathers or send the right message to their employees, their investors or their constituents.

By Jena McGregor | September 22, 2010; 11:09 AM ET | Comments (2)

Warren's appointment: The pitfalls of compromise

And so, Obama landed on a compromise--something leaders have to do every day. Except that in Obama's world (where voter dissatisfaction, a radically polarized political spectrum and a news media hungry to turn everything into a controversy), compromises don't have the usual effect.

By Jena McGregor | September 16, 2010; 11:56 AM ET | Comments (0)

Falling victim to the 'tyranny of the moment'

The media's obsession with these 24-hour mini-dramas creates the ultimate Catch 22 for leaders. Ignore it, and you'll be blamed for being tone deaf, or worse, afraid of staking out your opinion on the matter. But acknowledge it, and you only fan the flames, creating an even bigger distraction.

By Jena McGregor | September 10, 2010; 12:13 AM ET | Comments (56)

Should President Obama shake up his staff?

In my many conversations with leaders, I have often asked what they wish they'd done differently, or what mistake they considered their greatest. Few things come up more often than that they wished they'd moved faster on personnel decisions, and made the hard call to fire someone who wasn't working out as planned.

By Jena McGregor | September 7, 2010; 10:59 PM ET | Comments (20)

Leadership at the "Ground Zero mosque": A Failure?

If the planned center had a better public relations strategy, better outreach to its Muslim community, and a clearer vision for itself, would we have the same controversy we have today? In other words, would better leadership have made a difference?

By Jena McGregor | August 23, 2010; 06:35 AM ET | Comments (58)

Weekend reads, The judgment edition

In honor of new Supreme Court justice-to-be Elena Kagan's Senate confirmation and the big ruling by Judge Vaughn Walker that Proposition 8, California's ban on same-sex marriage, violates the constitutional right to equal protection, Weekend Reads takes on the mushy topic of judgment.

By Jena McGregor | August 6, 2010; 09:13 AM ET | Comments (1)

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