Make Better Decisions – Why Managers Violate Natural Laws

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Last Updated on April 17, 2024 by Bill Truby

How the Study of Human Nature Can Guide Managers to Make Better Decisions

Everyone seems to know about natural laws and the consequences of violating those laws. Take the law of gravity. You trip – you fall; you roll out of bed – you are rudely awakened; you step off a cliff – you die. Everyone knows this and everyone is incessantly accountable to working with the law of gravity to avoid negative consequences.

This is true of many natural laws. If you don’t follow the laws of aerodynamics your plane crashes. If you violate the law of thermodynamics by touching a hot stove, you burn your hand. Unless there are mistakes or accidents, people obey these natural laws 100% of the time, without fail, and without someone looking over their shoulder to ensure obedience.

Why is this true? Well…we like incentives. We like pleasure. We don’t like pain. Working with the law of gravity allows us to walk freely to a chosen location. Working with the laws of aerodynamics allows us to fly to a vacation spot. And working with the laws of thermodynamics creates a warm and cozy winter evening.

But, as bizarre as it is, there are times when we look at a natural law that is as clear and powerful as the law of gravity and just walk off the cliff as if it doesn’t even exist. We can look a natural law in the eye and defy it, disobey it, maybe even deny its very existence. What’s going on? Why do we obey some natural laws and not others?

A moment of reflection gives the answer. When the cause and effect of a natural law are greatly separated in space and time, we are more likely to violate that law. In fact, the further the separation, the more likely it is that we will ignore the consequences of that law. Sadly, we also ignore the benefits too.

The cause and effect of smoking and death are separated by years. If the cause and effect were associated as closely as the law of gravity’s cause and effect, smoking would stop instantly. Alternatively, if the cause and effect of gravity were separated by years, we probably would violate that law too. We would step off a cliff and float effortlessly believing or hoping a “cure” for smashing our body into the ground would be found before we smashed our body into the ground.

We humans can get real creative when we want something. We find ways around natural laws. Figuring out the laws of aerodynamics, for example, got us around the law of gravity. Learning about the law of displacement enables us to float tons and tons of steel in the ocean. And those who don’t like to save money found an alternative which is, in essence, a “reverse savings.” Instead of putting money in a savings account every month until you have enough to buy a boat, a “reverse savings” allows you to buy the boat then put money into a “savings” (a loan) every month – which, of course, comes with a price called interest.

Sometimes, the incentive at the end of a delayed effect from a given cause is sufficient enough to encourage appropriate action. Getting an educational degree is an example. Even though there may be years before the “effect” of that education comes to pass in the form of a job or career, we are willing to invest the effort because the “pay off” is a sufficient incentive.

How does this discussion of human nature apply to a manager or leader?

Over the years we have found that the dynamics of violating natural laws illuminated above are exactly the dynamics of most leaders and managers experience when it comes to the laws of business and management.

A leader knows she needs to create a strategic plan or the company will end up behind the competition, reactive or simply surviving the moment, but it’s too easy to delay that activity because of the continuous crises that bombard every moment of every day. The “effect” of being more appropriately positioned in the market place and prepared for growth from the “cause” of strategic planning is not realized. Instead, like the not-so-proverbial dog chasing it’s tail, we see leaders entrenched in a reactionary stance, not taking the time to plan.

A manager may know the importance of staff development, training them in the hard and soft skills necessary to create productivity, eliminate conflict and develop teamwork. Instead, the perception of not enough time and too much work derails the good intentions of employee development. As a result, the manager becomes more micro in his management and dictatorial in his style. After all, the work has to get done!

Some of the questions we hear prove that the leader/manager does not have the perspective of cause and effect. The focus is on the issue or crisis of the moment. The questions seem to be centered on “what can I do NOW?” To us the answer is obvious, but the manager can’t see it. The focus is on the moment, not on the systemic cause and effect of the natural laws associated with the issue.

When this happens, we lead the manager to answer her own question by performing one simple mental exercise. In so doing we nudge the manager to think more systemically about cause and effect. Here is the mental exercise:

“If you ever wonder what to do for your team or your business, up the risk quotient and ask the same question. Imagine a situation that has huge safety threats like climbing a mountain where your lives depend on each other or flying tight formation in a Blue Angel’s show –then ask the same question for that scenario.”

Consider these questions we’ve been asked in the context of the above mental exercise:

“How often should we meet? When should we invest in new tools? How important is training? How important is strategic planning when we already have some direction right now? What should we do with a certain employee who has not been performing well…for quite some time…actually, for years?”

Notice how the answers become quite obvious when you consider the question in a high-risk scenario? What’s happening when we up the risk factor in the mental exercise is this; we’re simply shortening up the time frame between cause and effect, helping the leader to consider the situation within the context of a natural law. In essence we’ve taught the leader how to think differently, possibly at a more foundational level – which in itself has a more beneficial cause and effect. Thinking differently creates different action.

When working with a company to enhance their organization’s success we will remind them that the laws of business and leadership and management and achievement are no different than the power in the laws associated with climbing a mountain – except for one thing: the length of time between cause and effect. In fact our success comes from one thing and one thing only, working WITH natural laws; and that’s more HOW you do something and WHEN you do it than whether or not you do it. We will often tell the leaders of a company, “We are not here to ask you to do different things; but to do things differently.” Then we teach them tools and processes that work within the cause and effect of natural laws.

The Truby Management System, and many other tutorials, are filled with “cause and effect” natural “laws.” They are “laws” in the same sense as natural laws, like gravity. They have predictable effects – both positive and negative effects. It all depends on whether you work WITH the law or AGAINST it.

As you learn the concepts in the Truby Achievements trainings, you’ll see how simple it is to work WITH the common sense, cause and effect, “laws” that govern your ability to lead people, and to grow your business.

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Bill Truby

Founder and President of Truby Achievements