2.3. Decide What You’re Going to Do Next

In order to build a business and manage it well enough that it has a chance of surviving the first couple of years, you have to manage it properly, and that means you’ve got to know what you’re supposed to be doing as a manager. So, what are you supposed to be doing? Well, let’s start with a simple question:


Q: What is the most important function of management?


don’t doubt that you and your team can list many possible answers to this question. Certainly, I’ve heard many answers to this question during my career. Here are some of them:


  • Providing leadership
  • Organising work flow
  • Allocating work to the team and the people within them
  • Sorting out problems
  • Giving orders
  • Greasing the wheels
  • Lubricating the cogs
  • Passing the buck!


You can no doubt think of a few more, but the function of management that underpins them all, and the answer that we will use for the rest of this course is:

A: Making decisions


Yep, you read that right. Making decisions. Deciding things. Deciding what you are going to do, where you are going to do it, why it’s the right thing to do, by when you should have it done and exactly how you’re going to do it. That is management’s most important function. As shown in Diagram 2.4, the output of you finding out what’s going on is you deciding what you are going to do about it!


  • Where are we now?
  • What are we going to do next?
Diagram 2.4: The Simplified Management Steering Wheel — making decisions

The primary function of management is to make decisions

So, whether you are a driver, a digger, a telesales operative or CEO of Apple, your most important function is to make decisions; which way to go, where to dig, when to call or how to increase shareholder value. This simple fact means that everyone is, in effect, a manager because everyone is making decisions. Now that’s a scary thought, isn’t it? But stick with me here. Given that everybody is a manager:


Q: What’s the difference between the cleaner and the Managing Director of the business?


A: The value associated with the decisions that they make.

Right, given that we’re going to define management here as ‘making decisions’, and that we can all agree that wrong decisions have a cost (usually measured in business as ‘money’), you’d better be very sure that the decisions that are made within your business are informed decisions. If they are not informed, if they are not based on accurate information, then they are guesswork. Please don’t make uninformed decisions because it is expected of you, because you want to look powerful, because you want to appear decisive, etc. If you get it wrong because you guessed, you’ll look like a fool.


Take some time to get hold of the necessary information; find out what’s going on. This is the starting point for any decision made within your business. Don’t go on ‘gut feeling’ because I’m telling you that the feeling in your gut is most likely trapped wind and not a really—well—thought—through decision desperately trying to get out!


You’ll increase the chance that your business will survive if you make decisions that are informed, and we’ll come back to where the information to make your informed decisions is going to come from later (see Chapter 6: Reading Your Dashboard Correctly), but right now we’re going to follow the SMSW to see where your decisions will be taking your business.

You are not entitled to your opinion…