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    Instinct decision making

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    The world has been shocked by what they never expected. Many world leaders were caught napping as they thought nothing could destabilize what they thought was a comfort for them and their economies. And suddenly, the Corona Virus landed to shift the world to a direction many never anticipated. To be honest about this, not all the countries are going to feel the same negative impact. Some countries are going to be the huge beneficiaries as a result of the decisions made years ago. This, I call INSTINCT DECISION MAKING. Let me first take you to the leader whose decision making processes qualified him to be called an INSTINCT DECISION MAKER. His name is Deng Xiaoping, who ruled China between 1977 and 1989 after the death of Mao Zedong.

    He is credited with the introduction of the four modernizations namely; economy, agriculture, scientific and technological development and national defence. He advocated for the Chinese development of an advanced civilian scientific infrastructure in order for the country to be in a position to build modern weapons. To do this he had to take tough and unpopular decisions including downsizing the senior and corrupt officials, recruitment of better educated young men who would be ready to handle the demands of technology when that time comes. He then established a commission for science, technology, industry for national defence to plan for using technology developed in the civilian sector. To cut the story short, this man who is lauded as “the Chief” architect of the China’s economic reforms and china’s social modernization has set the tone for what we see china today.

    Every leader is faced with an opportunity to make crucial decisions every day of his organizational life. This is not only constrained to the organization, it goes beyond to personal and family environments. At organizational level, decisions are made regarding the life and health of the organization, the workforce, the resources, the clients and the things that are related to the functioning of the organization.

    2020 is a year that challenged many leaders across the globe and their decision making skills and capacity were completely exposed in many ways. The discovery of the Corona Virus (COVID-19) left many leaders vulnerable and frustrated as they were expected to swiftly and confidently respond to evade mass deaths of their people. Life-saving decisions had to be made and fast. China, the country where this virus was detected seemed frustrated especially when the economy had shown signs of real exponential growth over the years. This is happening when the country is having a cold war with the US over 5G technology.  It is worth noting that what was started by their leader Deng Xiaoping in the late 70’s has come to place them where they can easily compete with the United States who until now have been leading in Technology.

    China had to decide to either lose out on the gains of the past decades or watch their economy go down the drain with the virus attack. Their leader had to lock down the city of Wuhan to control the spread of the virus not to affect other big cities. A large hospital had to be built in a very short space of time of weeks to isolate and confine those who were infected to be treated in a centralized place. This decision helped free the existing hospital facilities from this unexpected influx of the Corona patients. Transport and exit points were locked to control the spread. People died en-mass while the major Chinese cities continue with production and business as close to normal. China’s swift response has brought the virus under control within months of its detection. 

    Other countries like Spain, Italy, US and many others in Europe decided to go business as usual and most probably some looked at the virus as a Chinese virus that would never affect their countries. The result of that attitude led to the countries like China, and US leading with the stats both of infections and mortality rate skyrocketing. Many leaders were caught off guard with their decision making. The same slow response of the European countries found its way to our shores. Many organizations and ordinary people cautioned about this response and unfortunately when the authorities started listening, it was a little too late.

    In 2014, Former US president Barack Obama in his speech warned; “There may and likely will come a time in which we have both an airborne disease and is deadly. And in order for us to deal with that effectively we have to put in place an infrastructure, not just here at home, but globally. It allows us to see it quickly, isolate it quickly, respond quickly so that even when a new strain of flu like the Spanish flu crops up five years from now or a decade from now we have made the announcement and work further along to be able to catch it. In this speech, president Obama was suggesting that the American congress should make funds available to setup infrastructure in the health system to be readily available to deal with the potential outbreak or threat. Simply put, the president was suggesting what I call INSTINCT DECISION MAKING.

    Obama and Xiaoping had the same thing in mind. The two leaders who led at different times leading two different nations have seen it necessary that in order to develop an organization, one has to take serious decision which are built in within the fibre of the organization. Decision making that focuses on short term achievements holds the organization ransom because with threats of pandemics, natural disasters, wars, at our doorstep every day, every leader should knit their major decisions within the day to day workings of the organization. This is one of the critical models that organizations that aim to last longer should seriously consider. Every leader of organization has the privilege of accessing or at least capacitate a team of experts for a longer term in order to see the organization grow through the decision making process that would have been engraved within the system but which evolves with the time as the organization grows. Xiaoping saw China as a country that would make huge progress with the advancement of technology while strengthening the civil sector through industrialization.

    To understand Instinct Decision making, allow me to isolate the two terms as follows:

    1. INSTINCT: Instinct is defined by Merriam Webster dictionary as a largely inherent and unalterable tendency of an organism to make a complex and specific response to an environmental stimuli without involving reason.


    I love the definition above because it brings forth two crucial components of the instinct. These components are:

    1. Inheritable: The instinct tendency can be inherited from one generation to the other. It is like when the child of a musician inherits the musical side of his or her father.
    2. Unalterable: These tendencies cannot be changed at one’s like dislike.

    A simple of instincts is that of the animal response to thirst. When a cow feels thirsty, the natural response to its thirst is to first go to the place where it found water before and if that place does not satisfy this thirst, it will move to the other place where it also knows has a potential of getting the water it desires for its thirst. Instincts in animals have not changed since creation, and they have been passed from one generation to the other. Instinct are built in to the life of every animal. These instincts components for a greater part of this decision making process. In every system of the organization, these instincts are built in with an understanding that it’s a long term process whose benefits are always generation. But if an unfortunate situation happens along the way, the organization is able to mitigate the negative effects without feeling the maximum impact.

    1. DECISION MAKING: This is simply a process of arriving at decisions that help the organization to achieve it’s objectives. Every organization has reasons for its existence. These are objectives that will be listed in its founding documents and these objectives will be achieved through the day to day decisions that the leader will take in line with those objectives.

    What then is INSTINCT DECISION MAKING: I define instinct decision making as a structured inherent response engraved within the entire organizational system to drive it towards the attainment of its main objectives.

      When president Obama spoke about the response the congress must make in preparation for the 5 to 10 years of the emergence of the pandemic, he was simply saying set the budget aside and train as many health professionals to deal with the outbreak as and when it happens. When Deng Xiaoping advocated for the Chinese advanced scientific civilian infrastructure he meant that china must educate its young people in the field of technology so that with time it can be a thriving economy in manufacturing so that it can overtake the traditional super powers. Today we are talking about china as the main cheap manufacturing hub which many European retailers rely on. It is not amazing that the current war with the US on 5G keeps the Americans asleep. With the 4IR (Fourth Industrial Revolution) advancing to bring artificial intelligence to simplify industrialization, many countries are only waking up to that reality that the decisions made in the early eighties have edged many countries out of competition with the Chinese. The sad reality is that Xiaoping knew that the Chinese population was too much to be the advantage when it comes to manufacturing because their numbers could make it easy for the production of bulk products. With more targeted education in technology, they would become a superpower. Companies like Huawei, are typical example of what INSTINCT DECISION MAKING can produce in the long term. Instinct decision making requires the application of what I call the PPE, which stands for; PROACTIVE, PLANNING, EXECUTION.

    Our country is going through a crisis which we are partly responsible for. It has been overtaken and overshadowed by the Corona Virus outbreak. It was clear that one way or another our country was going to be caught up sooner or later. The spate of corruption and maladministration was going to catch-up with us. The various downgrades that we suffered against Moody’s and company as a result of lack of economic growth due to our SOE’s which guzzled bailout after the other. SABC, ESKOM, SAA to mention a few coupled with municipalities that were bleeding the treasure every single year, there was no better landing for us as a country. The past 10 years have been acknowledged to be the years equivalent to no leadership. Unfortunately, the corruption that ravaged this country for the past decade has found itself within the government structures with a group of officials who see the state as nothing but a dairy cow that must feed their bottomless tummies.

    Can the state recover from this to implement INSTINCT DECISION MAKING? It is difficult to recover from such blow if you do not have the leadership that inspires confidence and at the moment South Africa is in a better position because it clear that the nation trusts its leader, President Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa. The president is better placed at this moment to take decisions that will set him apart for the next half century. It is well and good to work on solving the current Corona Virus problem, but this is going to come to an end. It is this time that the president should look further than the pandemic and see the opportunity to redirect our economic strategy through identification of the key economic sectors that will free this country from dependence from the European and Eastern countries. As a country there are certain products and mineral resources that we can produce for ourselves with the sole intention of exporting to other countries especially our fellow African countries. The resuscitation of the manufacturing industry should become his primary focus going forward. But this cannot be looked at in isolation, it needs to be built into every sector including revamping our education system to allow space for this kind of innovation.

    In the next post, I will be getting slightly deeper into the PPE of Instinct Decision Making model I spoke about earlier. Until then keep well by sanitizing, washing your hands regularly with soap for at least 20 seconds and keep that social distance of one meter apart. God bless you.

    Maano Ramadwa



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