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What Tinder Can Teach You About Better Strategic Decisions

There are four core lessons that strategic decision-makers may learn from how we choose on Tinder.

Dr Charlene Lew




When deciding about the long-term success of your organisation, you perform an intricate balancing act of understanding the alternative directions open to you, the criteria on which you will evaluate outcomes, the outcomes you will prefer and the information that will improve your odds of succeeding.

Sometimes unusual strategic moves become your best decisions – for instance, when you partner with your competitor, and enable opportunity that would otherwise not exist, or you drop long held believes about how to manage people, and suddenly have a workforce that is willing to go beyond what they’ve done before.

Sometimes opportunities are lost through your decisions – for instance when you pass by an acquisition of a business that becomes the new way of how things are done.

Think for instance how Blockbuster failed to acquire Netflix in the 2000s, which now in 2016 has achieved a market cap of US$ 41.31 billion, while Blockbuster was liquidated in 2013.  Decisions can result in opportunities lost through what some ascribe to lack of vision.

Clearly strategic decision-making requires a complex set of skills – such as vision, systems thinking, understanding opportunity, aligning to the market – to mention only a few. But, to master strategic decisions we firstly need to master choice.

Related: 6 Secrets to Making Business Decisions That Get Results

The dating and “social discovery service app” Tinder offers a good learning ground for understanding choice.  In simple terms the first step in Tinder is a choice between ‘like’ and ‘dislike’, ‘yes’ and ‘no’, where you swipe the faces of complete strangers in opposite directions, based possibly on how symmetrical their faces are and the absence of clear signs of psychopathic traits online.

This first step is based on simple heuristics, ‘mental short cuts’, that help you to, based on minimal information, select between what is acceptable and less acceptable.  In strategic decisions, executives also use short cuts such as choosing best first option, meeting minimum criteria, or adoption because it reminds them of a successful similar moment in the past.

Whilst these types of heuristics can reflect common bias, they also help executives to save time and determine criteria of acceptability. Therefore strategic decision need to hinge on a clear and joint understanding of what are acceptable behaviours and outcomes and what are not.


The second thing that happens on Tinder is that someone may match your interest. This creates an important filter between where you are able to play and where your offering will not be valued. A mistake many top teams make in their strategy sessions is to plan in isolation, forgetting the constraints of where the company is wanted and where not.

A company cannot be all things to all people, and should also not create plans separate from the changing needs of the market.  Strategic choice therefore requires an understanding of where you can really add value, and where others should rather work.

After a match has been made on Tinder further vetting of suitability takes place through short communications, phone calls and ultimately the meeting in person, where the biggest consideration is whether the Tinder profile matches the face of reality.

This process is one of reducing uncertainty. It is a subconscious and conscious comparison of expectations. Likewise the executive decision makers require reasonable expectations of returns as decision criteria. With that they need to be sure about the guiding principles that govern their choices – what they are willing to do or accept as embedded in their values.  If integrity is such a value, the options in strategic choice become more focused, and the effect of uncertainty reduces.

Next, on Tinder there comes a moment where one of the parties decides to move forward or not.  This follows from understanding whether to explore more options or to establish direction and action. Business leaders too have to reach a point of either choosing to create more options and choose a strategy that is better than the one before, or to move forward with the current and see how things evolve.

To know the difference between these two directions they need to have a clear understanding of the vision of the ultimate outcome of the company, and keep this foremost in their minds.

As all companies that don’t reinvent themselves come to an end, the conversations in the organisation should be permeated with a need for purpose, a reason for being, and why you are in business in order to be able to almost instinctively understand which direction will work.

Finally on Tinder and in business there are moments of extraction, when one has to say good bye to good intended strategic plans.  Many executives fall to the bias of endowed progress, putting more into failing strategies because of all the effort that had already been put in.

Related: Want To Build Your Business? Sweat The Details

Strategy entails several options such as immediate entry or exit, delayed entry or delayed exit, unexpected options, or getting the best of all worlds. Decision-makers need to know when to step back and cut losses and when to push through and not give up.

The difference lies in on the one hand understanding that we cannot always see how the activities of today may enable the opportunities of tomorrow and on the other hand to know that a well-developed intuition is an important source of information even for strategic decisions.


1. Rule of infinite options

When making decisions understand that there are infinitely more options than you can think of, but choosing the best available option will probably suffice.

2. Rule of guiding principles

If it is against your core values, don’t do it.

3. Rule of deciding to decide

It is better to take action through decision than to not take action at all.

4. Rule of relevance

If your strategic choices are inward looking rather than outward looking and forward looking, they will fail.

Related: How To Build Your Business Like A Boss

By improving the way we choose we can ultimately enhance our strategic decisions and trajectory of our firms.  There will be mistakes and there will be lessons learnt, but by knowing the criteria of good outcomes, where you can really add value, aligning values and purpose, and tapping into both the best information and your intuition, there is no need why better things may not be realised.

Dr Charlene Lew is a senior lecturer at GIBS. She teaches on the PhD, MBA and corporate programmes in the areas of strategic leadership decision-making and organisational behaviour. Charlene supervises doctoral and MBA research and publishes in the area of managerial psychology – focusing on the intersection where strategic leadership decision-making and organisational outcomes meet. She is passionate about the intra- and inter-psychological processes that drive behaviour at work, particularly at top management team level and holds a Doctorate in Psychology with a focus on adult career development.



4 Ways To Find Your Own Business Style

The only way to develop a business style is step-by-step over time.

Timothy Sykes




Finding a style in finance will define how you react to changes and how you approach new situations. It’s as important in business as it is in stock trading. Developing a business style and developing a stock trading system are extremely similar pursuits.

But I’m not going to pretend that it’s easy to do. It will take time and you do have to be willing to work at it.

Here are my four ways of finding your own business style.

1. Get rid of your expectations

You can’t force anything to work. It’s necessary for you to be flexible when it comes to finding a business style. Begin by letting go of any expectations you have before trying a new style.

Prior to attempting a new style, you have to be willing to go into it with no expectations. You never know what you’re going to find.

Related: 8 Steps to Building Your Business According to the Lifestyle You Want

2. Track your movements

Some things are going to work and some things aren’t going to work. I always tell my students in the Tim Sykes Millionaire Challenge that they should keep records of the things they’re doing. Keep these records as detailed as possible because attempting trial and error can quickly lead you in circles.

Don’t fall into the trap (as I did in the beginning) of trying the same thing multiple times because you never tracked the results.

I keep large spreadsheets with notes of the various styles and systems I’ve tried in business. Business mistakes can be costly, so you need to do everything you can to avoid making them.

3. Look at what others are doing


I refuse to believe that someone is doing something truly unique. The moment someone makes a breakthrough in business there are a hundred people replicating the same things. And that can be a powerful tool. Consider what others are doing and see whether you can learn something.

It’s why I also advocate finding a mentor to help you out. They’ll be able to help you out and you’ll benefit from their enhanced experiences in business.

Again, track what you’re taking from other people so you know whether something is working.

Related: I Started Saying ‘No’ To These 6 Things. My Life And My Business Got A Lot Better

4. Refine what you do

Rarely will anything in business work the first time. However, your first attempts will give you a good benchmark as to what you need to do next.

You should never be satisfied with what you have, even if it’s working. Always work on improving your business style. I believe this is the most important thing because it also teaches you how to adapt to changing conditions over time.

Last Word – Constantly Growing

There’s no step-by-step guide for how to develop a business style. The only way to do it is to obey the fundamentals and then develop everything over time.

Even though the process is long, you’re guaranteed to learn a lot of lessons and gain from a huge number of experiences over time.

This article was originally posted here on

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6 Questions You Should Be Asking When Coaching

Top athletes have coaches because they’re winners. Business leaders should be the same.

Nadine Todd



Dr Marshall Goldsmith

Whether you’re a CEO looking for a mentor, coaching your management team, or structuring a coaching programme for your managers to implement, there are six questions that can help anyone get better at anything.

The expert

Dr Marshall Goldsmith is a best-selling author and world-renowned business educator and coach. He has coached top CEOs, including Alan Mulally, former President and CEO of Ford Motor Company.

The key to a successful coaching programme is simple dialogue and establishing responsibility. The person being coached must understand and agree that success lies in their hands. They must take responsibility for their actions.

Related: How Business Coaching Can Help You Achieve Your Goals

The method

Once every few months, have a direct coaching session. Ask (or answer for yourself) these six questions:

  1. Where are we going?
  2. Where are you going?
  3. What are you doing well?
  4. Do you have suggestions for my improvement?
  5. How can I help you?
  6. So you have suggestions for me?

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4 Ways To Develop The Leaders You’ll Need In The Future

One of the most challenging aspects of leadership development is consistently and effectively identifying the next wave of leaders.




One of the most challenging aspects of leadership development is consistently and effectively identifying the next wave of leaders.

It can be easy for those at the top to forget that eventually someone will have to take their place at the helm. And ignoring that fact has lead to issues with succession planning, unwanted turnover and other challenges in leadership development in many organisations.

2016 High Impact Leadership research from Bersin by Deloitte asked 2,422 HR and business leaders from around the world how well they believed they could discover new leadership talent. Just 35 percent of respondents said they were above average when it came to successfully identifying and developing leaders.

To understand why this is, consider the typical leadership development paradox. Traditionally, the first step is to choose who has leadership potential, then develop their skillset. Logically, however, this makes little sense.

How is it possible to identify effective leaders if employees have yet to receive any type of leadership development?

Here are four ways to properly identify better qualified candidates for leadership positions:

1Stop choosing potential leaders based on unrelated skills

Gallup’s 2015 State of the American Manager Report, which studied 2.5 million manager-led teams in 195 countries, found that the top two reasons employees are promoted to management positions are because they were successful in a non-managerial role or because of their tenure with the company. Neither of those criteria have any proven correlation with leadership skills or relevant experience.

Create a better means of measuring for true leadership potential. Look at the culture of the organisation and envision what it would look like for someone to lead by those values.

Also consider how successful leaders evolved over time in the organisation. Then use that information to make a list of recognisable traits to look for as signs of leadership potential.

2Broaden leadership development to more employees

People learn and grow at their own unique pace. Requiring that an employee reach a certain position or be with the company for a certain number of years before they’re offered leadership opportunities holds back those who might be ready for more responsibility now. Or even worse, it might push those who aren’t yet ready into leadership roles.

Instead, let leadership development be a company-wide initiative. This gives more people the chance to take the next step in their career. It also creates a larger pool of possible great leaders to draw from across the organisation.

3Track progress and growth

Track progress and growth

There’s no way of knowing who is ready to step up and lead unless development is monitored. Remember that this is a process. Employees need feedback from their mentors and coaches to know for certain what skills they’ve mastered as well as where there can still be improvements made.

Develop a way to assess progress for different leadership positions, and be clear with employees and coaches about what success would look like in different situations. For instance, explain what is expected of a first time project leader.

Get everyone on the same page about the developing leader’s responsibilities and how that should guide their team.

Then collect thorough feedback from all those involved. Ask the leadership candidate what challenges they faced as well as where they think they thrived. Pose the same questions to those they supervised and organisational mentors.

Over time, this will reveal patterns that make it easier to identify who is best suited for leadership in the long-term.

4Focus on continual leadership development

There is no such thing as too much experience. There is always more that can be learned. After leadership candidates have been identified, continue to nurture them. This keeps employees from feeling that they have plateaued, which is unfortunately common.

The 2014 Insigniam Middle Management Survey: Middle Management’s Critical Role In Saving Company Innovation looked at responses from 200 middle managers from around the world. It found that only 15 percent of managers believe they will ever be promoted to the next level of leadership at their company.

Whether intentionally or not, employees who have proven their leadership abilities are being told that their leadership journey is over – and this hurts both them and the organisation. Encourage a steady stream of highly trained and skilled leaders working their way up by demonstrating that there is no end to development.

In order to clearly see who the next wave of leaders is going to be, employees need to be given the chance to hone and exercise their skills.

That means redefining how leadership potential is identified and providing each employee with the chance to develop personally and professionally.

This article was originally posted here on

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