Management Tip of the Day: Finding Acceptable Trade-offs

Mon May 23, 2011 8:56am EDT
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BOSTON (Reuters) - Most decisions involve trade-offs, and Harvard Business Review has some tips on knowing which trade-offs are acceptable.

The Management Tip of the Day offers quick, practical management tips and ideas from Harvard Business Review and (http:\\ Any opinions expressed are not endorsed by Reuters.

"Every important decision inevitably involves a trade-off. Knowing what you can't pursue is as valuable as articulating what you will. But how do you know which trade-offs are acceptable and which are losing propositions?

Here are three ways to help make the distinction:

1. Get input on pros and cons. List advantages and disadvantages and ask others for their perspective on which carries the heaviest weight.

2. Balance short term with long term. Determine what you'd be willing to give up in the long run for some important short-term gain -- and vice versa.

3. Gauge support. While weighing alternatives, think about who will support a particular idea and who will oppose it. Ask whose support you can live without, and whose backing and buy-in you absolutely need."

-Today's management tip was adapted from the Harvard ManageMentor module "Strategic Thinking."