How many things are you certain about? I mean absolutely, positively, no doubt about it, certain.
If you are like most people, the answer is, “not many.”
I used to be certain about most things. I “knew” I was right, and I worked hard to help others see things my way. However, that certainty wasn’t real. It was the barrier I used to protect myself from the pain of the doubts and fears I experienced. On our own, sitting alone in the dark with only our thoughts, most of us are uncertain and unsure of ourselves.
A week ago, the selection committee chose the architect and engineer for the Cornerstone project. Five groups presented their team, their capabilities, their body of work, and most importantly, tried to create a connection with the selection committee. They were all really good. Fabulous even. Each group had strengths that would be wonderful to have on the team. Each group did really creative things that demonstrated they had studied our culture and our people. We could have picked any one of them and gotten a great building.
By the end of the day, the selection committee decided which group they believed would be the best fit for us. The decision was unanimous, but the scores were close. In other words, one group was clearly our pick, but the other groups weren’t far behind. The original plan was to spend more time with the top two picks to get a better sense of what it would be like to work with them. After some discussion the selection committee decided there was nothing another group could do that would unseat our first pick.
This is where it gets really interesting. They decided it would be out of step with our core values to use up the second group’s time when they were sure it would not change their mind. They also decided they weren’t comfortable using the other groups as leverage for pricing. So, in the end, they picked the best group for Kimray, decided what they felt needed to happen with regards to pricing and sent our owner’s rep to make the deal. She did.
I am certain that we have the right team to design our Kimray’s new home. Why I am certain is what I want to share with you.
As an aside, when I say I am certain I am speaking of a feeling of certainty, not the scientific definition of certainty. In truth, certainty rarely exists in the temporal world. There are some really high probabilities, so high in fact that they look very much like certainties, but they are probabilities none the less. If you smoke your whole life you have a much higher chance (another word for probability) of developing lung cancer. Not everyone who smokes get cancer, so it is not “certain”, but you are playing with loaded dice if you do. Likewise, the things I am about to describe do not guarantee the best outcomes, but they do stack the odds in our favor.
The reason I feel certain about this decision, and the reason I know you can experience more “certainty” in your life, is because there are things we can do that increase the probability of us making the best choices.
Have a clear mission, vision and core values. Everyone on the team knows these, understands them and believes in them. Many times, the decisions we need to make are not between “right” and “wrong”, they are between “good” and “better”. The more clarity we have about who we are (corporately or individually) and what we are working to accomplish, the more likely we are (there’s that probability again) to make the “better” decision. When decisions are between right and wrong they are easy if you have clear core values. When decisions are about what is the best among several good options then having a compelling mission and vision can make the difference.
Reduced the decision to the essential element. Determining if a particular architect and engineering team could do the work we need was easy. Well, it was easy because we got someone involved who knew the business and she vetted the available groups first. Checking prior work, looking at the size of the company, reviewing references, and general industry knowledge all came into the equation that resulted in us looking at 5 groups that would all be valid choices. We reduced the decision the selection committee needed to make to picking who we wanted to do life with during this project. We were deciding who fit us.
Use the wisdom of the crowd. By including several people in the process and selecting people from different areas, we had a cross section of viewpoints. This is not the same as letting random people vote. Remember the first thing, common values and mission. Everyone on the selection committee had the same goal and wanted the same things. How they viewed each groups suitability to our project was unique. By combining the different views, we again raised the chances that we would make the best choice. In personal decisions we can ask people who know us and whom we trust to give their view of the options.
With these things in play, the probability that we made the right decision is very high. So high, that I feel certain about it. That is a wonderful gift. I am not certain about a lot of things. As this project moves forward there will be lots of decisions to make, there will be times when things are not easy, and we will make mistakes. Knowing that we have the right team and are doing the right thing will help us weather these momentary times of uncertainty.
This concept is true for me individually too. When I know who I am and the direction I am heading (mission, vision and values), I can better see the essential elements of the choices I am making and am more likely to seek advice and counsel. Then when things don’t go as planned or I make a mistake, I can remind myself that I am on the right path and I know where I am going. I just got sidetracked. It is a lot easier to get back on track than it is to re-plan the whole journey at every misstep.
Today the selection committee will repeat the process to choose the Construction Management company (CM). I would ask for your prayers that we would have the same clarity (certainty even) about this decision as we did for the last.
We know who we are, we know where we are going, we trust each other, and we will make the best decision we can—because that is the Kimray Way.