What all leaders can learn from bad COVID-related decision-making

Having a framework for making decisions leads to a better chance of success

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David FullerIt’s becoming apparent vaccine mandates aren’t working: the number of variants of COVID-19 strains is increasing with the regularity of flu strains of the past.

This is despite the fact that the majority of the population in the western world has been vaccinated – myself included, for those of you who might want to blow this article off as written by an anti-vaxxer.

Vaccinating the masses has been done much to the delight of multinational biotech companies like Moderna and Pfizer, which are reaping billions of dollars in record profits.

So what went wrong, and what can leaders like you and I learn from this?

Research shows having a process improves decision-making by six times over analysis alone.

While it’s difficult to imagine what a good framework for decision-making could be, we might use the WRAP framework, which is a process invented by Chip and Dan Heath in their book Decisive. Whether you use WRAP decision-making process or a criteria-based opportunity analyzer that I use with my clients (email me if you would like a copy), your chances of success improve significantly.

Here’s a look at the WRAP process:

Widening your options

Research shows that to make better decisions we need to have more than one option. To deal with COVID-19, there was only one valid option presented by health officials – vaccination. There should have been a variety of options available for people.

If you want to make better decisions in leadership, widen your options.

Too many options, however, can reduce your success rate. So you may want to limit it to three or four options.

Reality test your assumptions

It’s easy to make assumptions that our conclusions are valid. However, we need to reality test our assumptions. This can be done by small-scale trials or looking at a similar situation where the method was used.

Reality testing the assumption that vaccines were the only way out of the health crisis was rushed by governments and corporations, who were in a race to get to market.

A further reality test might have looked at the success rates of vaccines in treating mutating viruses like the flu or letting certain countries or regions test out herd immunity without economic punishment.

Attaining distance to get a better perspective

To get a better perspective on our decisions, we need to think differently and consider their implications 10 weeks, 10 months and 10 years out.

Unfortunately, because the same playbook was used in jurisdictions around the world – starting with lockdowns, mask use, vaccinations, a pandemic of the unvaccinated, vaccine passports, more lockdowns and restrictions, vaccine mandates and forced job losses, booster shots and so on – there was no better perspective sought by decision-makers who, it seems, were bowing to pressure from vaccine manufacturers.

There seemed very little room for independent thinking when determining protocols.

Prepare to be wrong

When making decisions, we need to prepare to be wrong. If this doesn’t work, what are our other options?

When we continue to press forward with decisions despite indications that we’re on the wrong path, things only get worse.

More advice on running your business

Despite the growing evidence that the vaccines aren’t working well to slow the spread of COVID variants, there has been little if any admission from those in charge that perhaps we were wrong in assuming vaccines were our only way out.

And there seems to be few options being sought other than booster shots as solutions to this problem.

Here are a few other decision-making nuggets leaders might appreciate learning:

Coercion leads to resentment and loss of respect for leadership

There appears to be growing opposition to the leaders who are enforcing mandates that continue to restrict our freedoms.

The resentment over forced job losses, travel restrictions, and monetary and social costs associated with testing and industry enforcement of government regulations is going to be a problem for leaders who have forced their mandates down the throats of unwilling community members.

This isn’t to say there isn’t a percentage of the population that supports coercive measures. However, when the number of dissenters tops 60 per cent, leadership is in trouble.

When we coerce our team members into following orders without giving them some insight and input, we set ourselves up for failure in the long term.

Money corrupts the decision-making processes

We need to recognize that when there’s money involved, decisions can become more complicated. This happens in small businesses and large corporations. For this reason, many companies have conflict-of-interest policies.

If these types of policies had been adhered to in the public domain with COVID decision-making and reporting, our understanding of the information we received might have been different.

COVID aside, leaders who have a framework for making decisions generally have a much higher percentage of success than those who don’t.

Unfortunately, few leaders use processes to make decisions and, as a result, are frustrated by consistent failures in their organizations. Are you ready to make a change?

Dave Fuller, MBA, is a vaccinated, award-winning business coach and a partner in Pivotleader Inc. If you would like a copy of Dave’s opportunity analyzer document, email dave@pivotleader.com.  For interview requests, click here.


The opinions expressed by our columnists and contributors are theirs alone and do not inherently or expressly reflect the views of our publication.

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