Sometimes there is no middle ground. We come to a decision point, a clear fork in the road, and have to decide between two opposites or stay stuck at the crossroads – generally not a good place to be. However, most decisions will not fall into this category, a best middle course or ‘golden mean‘ ( from the latin ‘ aurea medicoritas’) is available.
The golden mean should be viewed not as a compromise but as a principle based way of achieving the right balance between all legitimate considerations. While buy-in is important, the key consideration is whether solutions will stand the test of time. This will only be the case if there is no compromise on fundamental principles. In this sense the golden mean is not an ‘average’ solution but is about aiming high.
Finding the golden mean can take time and patience, a genuine openness to explore and consider all relevant perspectives. Sometimes it is better to wait than act in haste and end up with a solution which is popular, pragmatic, cheap, easy to implement but leads to grief in the long term.
So in arriving at the golden mean :
– be openminded and explore all options against a clear set of pre determined criteria
– stress test potential solutions, ‘what if’ analysis
– is there a ‘win win’ solution?, the best aspects of different options
– identify all the risks associated with the chosen solution
– put mitigants in place for the risks, which then become part of the solution
– determine what results are expected, needed for post implementation monitoring/review
– if results are out of line with expectations investigate and take corrective action
If you have a good track record as an intuitive decision maker it can nonetheless be useful to test your gut feel against this framework. Anyway, it is often in the detail of implementation that solutions come off the rails and this framework will help refine your solutions.