Assuage Fears to Make Better Decisions pt. 5

ARTICLE – In the conclusion of her Point of View, Elaine O’Connor gives guidance on a plan to implement required changes that need to be developed for the organization.

This is a five-part series sharing the Point of View of Houston Principal, Elaine O’Connor. A new part of her Point of View will be shared each week.

Perspectives-Plan Assuage Fears to Make Better Decisions-OG

Plan – How Do We Get There

Once the fears present in the organization have been identified and the set of remediation steps to be undertaken identified, a plan to implement the required changes should be developed. This plan will detail the change management required for implementation and communication. It is important to share what you as the executive have heard. This demonstrates transparency and openness to feedback. It shows the vulnerability required to foster trust and respect. Publish high level results of the assessment, the strategy identified, and the plan to effect change.

The objective of this change is to move the employees inward through the concentric areas of the model at a safe pace so that they may establish a lasting and different perception of the culture which does not stem from fear and so enables the free flow of information.

The plan should factor in the budget and timeline required, along with any competing priorities. The frequency at which to re-assess in order to gauge progress should also be included to enable course corrections and adjustments to be made. Executives can tend to not find the time or energy to devote to “squishy”, more qualitative in nature than quantitative, items leading to them be overlooked or quickly abandoned. Executives should persevere with their goal of establishing a safe environment that enables the team to move away from fear. A structure to sustain momentum should therefore be established before embarking on executing this plan.


Employees that are unafraid of their executive enjoy a relationship of mutual respect and trust. They operate in a risk tolerant environment sharing stories of growth and learning achieved through taking smart risks and failing fast. They constructively process issues by being self-disciplined to tackle them head on for the benefit of the team and their relationships. They challenge the status quo and question conventional wisdom as part of an empowered team. They become failure tolerant by being open and vulnerable. They share complete information as soon as it is available. Assuaging fears leads to less information being withheld or misrepresented, enabling executives to make better decisions.


  • Crucial Conversations, Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High second edition, by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler
  • The Leader’s Edge, by Susan Hodgkinson
  • How to Win Friends & Influence People, by Dale Carnegie
  • Getting Naked, by Patrick Lencioni
  • The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni
  • The Ethical Slut second edition, by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy
  • QBQ! The Question Behind the Question, by John G. Miller
  • The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive, by Patrick Lencioni
  • The Hidden Traps in Decision Making, by John S. Hammond, Ralph L. Keeney and Howard Raiffa, Harvard Business Review, September-October 1998
  • A Leader’s Framework for Decision Making, by David J. Snowden and Mary E. Boone, Harvard Business Review, November 2007
  • What Great Managers Do, by Marcus Buckingham, Harvard Business Review, March 2005
  • On Leadership, by The Levinson Institute, 2015
  • Termination of Troubled Projects and The Critical Point Theory, by Werner G. Meyer, SKEMA Business School, May 2013
  • The High Cost of Low Performance, PMI’s Pulse of the Profession, Project Management Institute, 2016
  • The Pitfalls of Project Status Reporting, by Mark Keil, H. Jeff Smith, Charalambos L. Iacovou and Ronald L. Thompson, MIT Sloan Management Review, Spring 2014
  • Knowing When to Pull the Plug, by Barry M. Staw and Jerry Ross, Harvard Business Review, March 1987
  • Pulling the Plug: Software Project Management and the Problem of Project Escalation, by Mark Keil, MIS Quarterly, December 1995
  • Cutting Your Losses: Extricating Your Organization When a Big Project Goes Awry, by Mark Keil and Ramiro Montealegre, MIT Sloan Management Review, Spring 2000
  • De-escalation of Commitment in MIS Projects: The Implications of Three Economic Theories, by Dmitriy V. Chulkov, International Academy of Business and Economics Review of Business Research, Jan 2009, volume 9 issue 1
  • Evaluating When to Kill a Project: What Criteria Do You Use? by Esther Schindler, The Fast Track, April 2014
  • Beyond Valuation: ‘Options Thinking’ in IT Project Management, by Robert G. Fichman, Mark Keil and Amrit Tiwana, April 2004
  • Increase Your Return on Failure, by Julian Birkinshaw and Martine Haas, Harvard Business Review, May 2016
  • Worldwide cost of IT failure (revisited): $3 trillion, by Michael Krigsman, ZD Net, April 2012
  • The Cost of Bad Project Management, by Benoit Hardy-Vallee Gallup Business Journal, February 2012
  • Customer Trust Discovery Project Dallas and Houston Findings, by Mike Rosenbaum, Pariveda Solutions, December 2012
  • Culture Driven Quality, by Kyle Stock, Pariveda Solutions, April 2016
  • Transition Workshop – Managing Cultural Differences, Pariveda Solutions
  • Office Well Being (OWB): An Infinite Journey, by Tom Foster, Pariveda Solutions, March 2015
  • Executive Perspective Framework, by Mike Evans, Pariveda Solutions, November 2015
  • The Ultimate Guide to Forms & Surveys, Chapter 6: Surveys 101: A Simple Guide to Asking Effective Questions, by Stephanie Beadell,

Part 1: Summary & Assertion, Background & Context
Part 2: Assess – Where we are now
Part 3:  Strategize – Where do we need to be, Fear of Career Impact, Fear of Discord
Part 4: Fear of Overstepping, Fear of Failure, Fear of the Executive


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: