Change the Way you Make Decisions

A history lesson: Two years after Fidel Castro came to power in an armed revolt, the United States government dispatched a paramilitary group to Cuba in an attempt to overthrow the new regime and establish a non-communist government friendly to the United States. But the armada, which consisted almost exclusively of Cuban exiles, was grossly outnumbered and poorly supported, resulting in a resounding failure after just three days.

The 1,400-strong invasion force landed at the Bahía de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs) on April 17th, 1961. The Cuban military was expecting them. The armada came under heavy fire. Cuban planes strafed the invading force, sank a pair of escort ships, and quashed its air support. By the next day, some 20,000 Cuban troops were advancing towards the beach. In response, the US dispatched a half-dozen support aircraft, but they were quickly shot down.

The invasion was crushed. Some 1,200 from the US side surrendered and more than 100 were killed. After 20 months of captivity, the US government negotiated for their release by offering Castro US$53 million worth of merchandise and medicine in exchange for the prisoners.

What went wrong?

Oh don’t get me started, but for starters, basically a dearth of quality intel, poor planning and groupthink.

A dearth of good intelligence – without credible and accurate information, there isn’t a detailed roadmap or a blueprint going forward. Intent and desire may be there, but these alone are inadequate to get anyone anywhere. Going for a trip? Where’s the itinerary?

Poor planning is almost a consequence of having bad facts and figures. Insufficient info will lead to bad planning. And bad planning will lead to dismal results, if not utter failure. Heard of the 7ps? Isn’t it ironic that the 7 Ps is a US Marine Corps adage for “Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance”? Poor planning is also manifestation of being poor stewards of precious resources. An invasion trip like that isn’t a jaunt to the playground!

Groupthink – when the leader exercises poor judgment yet thinks that he can do no wrong and when the entire decision group thinks that it is absolutely correct in its thinking and in its actions, and it acts to defend those actions, and refuses to apologize, failure looms. It’s almost guaranteed. There were a couple of senior people in the Kennedy administration who harbored doubts about the mission, but for the sake of harmony and cohesion, they kept their mouths shut. Well, now we know the consequences of that. For example, presidential advisor Arthur Schlesinger objected vehemently to the invasion but president John F Kennedy’s brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, privately admonished Schlesinger and told him to support the president’s decision to invade. Cronyism, nepotism, call it what you want. Ultimately, the accountability should still be that of president Kennedy himself. Leaders cannot be fact-resistent and reason-impervious, with eyes unpeeled to the truth, which is precisely what happened.

The rest, as they say, is history.

If we forget the lessons of history, we may rob ourselves of our future. It doesn’t matter if you are a Harvard grad; paper qualifications mean nothing, as the Bay of Pigs debacle has shown.

“Good judgment is exercised through training, years of experience, and assumption of accountability,” said Acting Education Minister Ong Ye Kung in Parliament recently.

Sadly for me, 2016 has gotten off on a rocky start in certain areas of my life, one of which is caused by ineffectual planning by certain individuals plus inadequate facts, undergirded by overall incompetence and an unwillingness to apologize and assume accountability.

Failure to plan on your part does not constitute a crisis on my part, please understand that.

Unfortunately in this case, it indeed became a crisis on my part.

Bad planning by some people have cost me great loss. What a fiasco. Thank goodness I was able to make lemonade out of lemons.

But for the most part, I just had to bite my tongue because I was trying to be gracious. (Yes, when dealing with some people in my life, I have to bite my tongue until it is scarred.)

Moreover, I’ve discovered that arguing or discussing anything with morons is pointless. They won’t listen to what you have to say because their mind was already made up on whatever it was that they never really had the intellectual firepower to properly think through.

So having discourse with such an individual is a lot like stepping in cat feces, (which to my limited knowledge, the foulest smelling animal excrement one can find). You end up fouling yourself and you can never manage to extricate yourself from that last vestige of stink.

But at the end of the day, though oblivious to the perpetrators, the loss to them and their organization – as far as I am concerned – is far greater.

So do consider how you make decisions and question if you are a victim of groupthink.

And use your brains, for your own sake.

You don’t want to look like an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing (thanks, Shakespeare) in front of the real experts with proven track records, do you?