In our latest video series, Chris Paton talks to Richard Withers, a consultant specialising in Decision Games for the Pharmaceutical Industry. After 11 years of building up his very successful consultancy firm, he sold it and now works as a strategic advisor. Here’s Richard’s very own honest opinion of how he ended up in Decision Games due to his self-professed misdemeanours: 

“After securing a well-deserved 3rd in Physical Education from Cardiff I was launched into my first negotiation lesson – pacifying my father, who suggested sensibly the military may knock some sense into me. A short time later I left the army having led an “average” career leading unfortunate soldiers to places which I cannot name, not on the grounds of secrecy, but because I was lost. Halcyon days indeed. After (in ascending order of stress) business school, several different jobs and children, in 2004, with my wife Sarah, founded a consultancy serving the biotech and pharmaceutical industry. Amongst other services we ran many, many “war games”. It seemed to go very well and our business was acquired in 2015. Now, after a 3 year non compete, Sarah wants me “out from under her feet”, she makes a good point, I need a fresh challenge”.

In this latest instalment of our video series, Chris and Richard discuss stress management. Even the very best people will make mistakes if they are stressed or tired. This leads to poor decisions and poor communication affecting the team all around them. Stress management is vital when you are doing the deep work of challenging assumptions and strategies.

Stress is effective if it is managed in the right way. It is important that leaders identify the symptoms of stress and recognise the effects of positive stress and impact of negative stress on yourself and your team.

Better plans flow from better decision making processes, which in turn flow from better strategies and better assumptions. In addition, with better (and wider) participation, departments can start to understand the problems that other departments face.

Leaders are the ones that set the expectations. The ‘getting-everyone-in-the-room’ part doesn’t generally happen, but it is a vital part of the Decision Games process. Not only does it garner widespread buy-in, but the accepted plan also galvanises the whole team as everyone knows exactly what is expected of them and what they are working towards.

Facilitating decision games with an external facilitator will inevitably change behaviour. At Quirk, we find that we achieve better attendance levels in the room, as well as higher levels of concentration and expectation of positive results. Our experience is that teams are mobilised emotionally when there is external support. Galvanization garners much more confidence moving forward.

Great value can be achieved through Pressure Testing because you can get all the right people in the same room together to test your strategies. The question is, why wouldn’t you do that as a responsible leader?

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