Thank you, Wells Fargo

I always appreciate it when big companies like Wells Fargo provide perfect, highly visible examples to prove my points.

Problem in business

You will make better decisions faster if you SOAR through Decisions. Unfortunately, most people skip three of the four steps. And Wells Fargo has just provided a fabulous example of skipping the fourth!

The R in SOAR stands for Risks. When you think you’ve arrived at a decision, it pays to pause to consider what might go wrong. Ask yourself or your team, what are the downsides to this alternative? I guarantee Wells Fargo skipped this step and let me show you why.

Imagine a team at Wells Fargo trying to figure out how to increase sales. Maybe, in particular, they were trying to get everyone who interacts with customers more involved in selling. Picture them sitting around a table, throwing out ideas. (These ideas are the Alternatives represented by the A in SOAR? No one skips this step! As a matter of fact, this is where most decisions begin and end!)

But I digress. Are you picturing this team? Someone proposes more training. Another suggests “cheat sheets” that remind employees to seize opportunities and provide specific phrases so employees don’t have to think. Boring, I know.

Then someone else suggests a competition. The energy picks up quickly. “Why should there be only one or two winners? We want everyone to be winners! Let’s offer rewards! Create an incentive plan.” There is lots of excitement now! This will work far better than more harping, training, or cheat sheets!

So they are off to the races. Whoever is responsible for this program is already considering his bonus because this idea will blow the socks off the CEO!

They finished step 3 of decision-making and quit. I refuse to believe anyone seriously asked, “What could go wrong?”

What could go wrong if you tell employees that Christmas will be bigger and brighter this year if they just get people to sign up for more products? How might such a plan interfere with a promise to put customers’ interests first? How might it change the way employees treat customers? How might it change their behavior? How might it shift the focus and priorities of these employees?

If you asked these questions, how could you not recognize the possibility of problems? At the very least, you would walk away with plans to monitor and mitigate the risks! And you would never allow over 5,000 employees to commit fraud.

Unless, of course, that is exactly what you intended.

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