…but not necessarily accurately informed.” Happy New Year and welcome to our first edition under our updated branding! We are excited about our new look and feel with the same professionalism and trust our stakeholders have come to expect over the first ten years in business! As the title quote from Leanne Hoagland-Smith suggests, our initial topic for 2019 addresses ability as leaders to make the right decisions based on how informed they are when they make key decisions for their teams/agencies/businesses. With the amount of information leaders have access to doubling at an alarming rate, it is no surprise the difficulty in being accurately informed to make the leadership decisions that keep the team, agency, or business growing. It’s been said people don’t typically disagree on the facts, rather people typically disagree on the interpretation of the facts. As the pace of change increases, so too does the pressure to make decisions in a shorter time to keep up with change. Clearly, context matters in any crucial conversation and context takes time to create and communicate. The common argument is not having time to create effective context. My push back is always that leaders cannot afford not to create context for their teams. When we play out the consequences of content-only decisions and teams executing out of context, we find that it takes three to five times more time to course-correct or restart the execution. If even a fraction of that time had been applied to creating meaning and understanding (context), the team would be well ahead in executing their operations. As the saying goes, “We don’t have time to do it right, but we always have time to do it again!” It’s no secret the steady diet of news nuggets, sound-bites and tweets we receive on a daily basis. A challenge this presents in the context of this discussion (see what I did there!) is the presence of “availability bias”. Availability bias occurs when we assume events are more common than they are based on one or two examples. In a 10/24/18 article in the USA Today titled, “Smile – things aren’t as bad as your brain thinks they are.”, Jeff Stibel speaks to how factually, we are so much better off than we were 50 years ago, yet the general perception is the opposite. Leaders have a responsibility and a challenge to fight through these biased perceptions and bring the facts (content) of the issue to bear as well as the meaning of the facts (context) to make the right decision! Even if we agree that the availability bias exists and recognize the negative impact of content only decision-making, the burning question remains, how do leaders improve their critical thinking skills? Last month, we wrote about soft skills in general and zeroed in on how oral communications specifically was lacking across the workforce. Effective Communications is but one of the Critical Thinking skills we will discuss over the coming months. The others are Open-mindedness, Problem-solving, Creativity and Analysis. “Information is knowing tomato is a fruit. Knowledge is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad.” Applying meaning and context to the abundance of facts we have access to is critical to the sustainable success of every organization. It falls on the shoulders of organizational leaders to ensure their teams/agencies/businesses understand why their next actions are important to their growth strategies! How are you ensuring you have accurate facts before making your next key decision? Lead Well!