Seemingly Stupid Decisions

Defending seemingly stupid decisions is one of the thankless tasks of management. It’s a tough position to be in–understanding the reasons behind decisions but being unable to share them. Especially when faced with naïve staffers who assume that communicating decisions is a simple case of “telling the truth.” You can’t share so your character gets called into question.

Many decisions seem stupid because they are bereft of context—sometimes for legal reasons, other times for strategic ones—making decisions seem not only stupid but capricious. Add in a general mistrust of management and it’s easy to see how staffers can become judgmental. Not that it makes it any easier when you’re on the receiving end—especially when you have the best of intentions. These types of misunderstandings happen every day and contribute to corporate suffering.

How can we bridge this gap?

First, let’s start challenging the simplistic black-and-white thinking that permeates many workplaces. It’s not as simple as management is evil and the workers are good. Not that you’d know that if you paid attention to the news. It seems as if every report has a clear storyline re: good and evil. You just have to look at how FOX News and MSNBC report politics. Republicans are good on one channel and evil on the other…and vice versa for the Democrats. That type of naïveté in thinking is seriously problematic in the workplace. Beyond making it difficult to have true teamwork, it affects how we solve business problems.

We live in a world of gray (and some have 50 Shades of it!) If we don’t push back and encourage critical thinking and challenge ourselves see situations from another point-of-view we’re not going to be able to anticipate and capitalize on opportunities. Then we’ll truly have lots of stupid decisions.

Amanda Mitchell is an executive coach and strategist specializing in helping senior executives deal with disruptive drama within their teams. An advertising agency veteran, she experienced first-hand the business implications of corporate drama both with her Fortune 500 clients and within the Manhattan ad agency she led. She founded Our Corporate Life ( to help executives solve the problems no one wants to deal with. She has been published in Bloomberg Businessweek, and quoted in Fast Company,, and She lives in New Jersey with her family.

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