Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Trusting experts

Photon Courier has an interesting post up on decision-making and hierarchy. I think there is an additional, relevant aspect to the historical events he uses as a jumping off point.

Kaiser Wilhelm's rebuke to von Moltke-"your uncle would have given me a different answer" must have stung. As an obedient soldier von Moltke could not reply in kind. If he could have, he would have been right to say "you would never have let my uncle be chief of the General Staff."

By 1914 German had no good strategic options and the Kaiser had few good experts to rely on. All of that was Wilhelm II's doing. He wanted all the reins in his hands and brooked no interference from generals or diplomats. When war came, he had no one to turn to except technocrats, courtiers, and sycophants.

So Photon Courier is right that executives need to tap into all the knowledge and expertise in their organization. But there is a corollary: If you want good advice in a crisis, you have to make certain that you have good people in place before hand.

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