Musings on decisions and factors that drive them.

The right team... representation, therefore acceptance

Since the last decade of my life has been focused on creating tools for weighing one's options and encouraging disciplined decision-making, I wondered at my own sense of delight in the rash action of an Irish pensioner in throwing eggs at a banker.  Allowing for and integrating the emotions of decisions has always been a factor in designing good tools.  But, any tool is only part of a larger decision process.  Egg throwing illustrates failure in a larger process.

Acceptance of decisions (and even the misfortune that may result from them), comes from a sense of participation in the decision, even if it can only be through a representative.  If persons do not feel listened to by their "representatives," and if their thoughts and feelings are not conveyed or assimilated, then resentment and frustration occur.  Eggs will fly.

The imminent retirees of America voluntarily contributed to their 401K plans. These plans, for many workers, will never (in the time these individuals have left) return to the needed levels for simply surviving their old age. (Single women, it is noted, will be particularly hard hit.) 401K contributors, however, knew that their funds were invested in the "private sector," and were susceptible to loss. As investors, we suffer their loss, yet we also remember that we participated in the investment choice.

On the other hand, taxes to support Social Security were not optional.  Neither the option to participate, nor the option as to amounts paid. Taxpayers simply met the imposed obligation of this social contract.  Now, as the rules for receipt of funds are being unilaterally changed, and as we learn that the use of the funds has been for other than social causes, the best we can hope for is that the right team of representatives is in place to make the decisions that will gravely affect us.  Given 1) the amount of money it takes to become an elected "representative" in this country, and 2) the age of key persons making the decisions (fifteen or more years from retirement themselves…time to recover), the necessity to add representation by someone without wealth and who is over 60 becomes more critical.  Decades ago, the then-aging population, also frustrated, found representation in the form of the Gray Panther movement, led by Maggie Kuhn.  Will we see its revival in these coming tough times?

We have often told our clients that no software tool produces an acceptable result if the right team isn’t in place.  Diverse viewpoints, varied experience, myriad backgrounds, education levels and wealth, differing cultures and a mixture of ages are but some of the many characteristics to be sought to comprise a team.  Only then can those they represent have the sense of, and confidence in, "participation" in the process.

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