Make a Critical Trade-Off

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Most important business decisions require compromise: To do one thing, you have to give up another. Next time you need to decide between conflicting priorities, try doing these three things:

  • Set boundaries. Establish which options are on and off the table. Filter choices by asking: What are we absolutely unwilling to do?
  • Balance the timing of wins. Ask what you’d be willing to trade in the long run for some important short-term gain — and vice versa.
  • Gauge support. Estimate who will support a particular idea and who will oppose it. Ask whose backing you can live without, and whose buy-in you absolutely need.

Adapted from the Harvard ManageMentor Online Module: Strategic Thinking.

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