Presentation to Alliance of CEOs on Head and Heart of Decision Making

How do you make a great decision every time?

In November 2016, the Alliance of CEOs invited me to present on this topic. The Alliance recorded the following eight minute video on the Head and Heart of Decision Making. In it, I tell how I was nearly fired by Mel Harris of Sony Pictures in the 1990s because I was a strictly rigorous analytical “head” guy. From this painful experience, I learned a transformational lesson about the power of meaning, the “heart” of decision making.

Since then, I have applied this idea in many situations to help companies drive growth.  As I have created and refined methods to resolve conflict on where and how much to invest, I’ve realized that a common version of this problem occurs between innovation and finance.

The Head and The Heart of Decision Making

Finance often plays the role of the “head,” which wants rigor and quantitative justification. Innovation often plays the role of the “heart,” which pursues the inspiring and meaningful. They often work at cross purposes. The trick is to get them pulling in the same direction, with their approaches complementing each other. This requires a rigorous evaluation of innovation that adds insight into what drives the upside.  But you must evaluate in a way that the rigor doesn’t crush early stage projects full of uncertainty.

To learn more about the Head and Heart of Decision Making, check out this free mini-course, Decision Quality: Making Purposeful and Meaningful Decisions.  The course (did I mention its free?) derives from a lecture Somik Raha and I gave at Stanford University.

Our work is about helping you have better decision conversations, because these drive breakthrough growth. SmartOrg’s portfolio evaluation platform, Portfolio Navigator®, gives you the tools to align innovation and finance on where and how much to invest. To learn more, please contact me at