In theory: Impulse Factor

Are you a "potential seeker" or a "risk manager"? That's the question psychologist Nick Tasler would like to ask you.

His new book The Impulse Factor: Why Some of us Play it Safe and Others Risk it All puts a new spin on the art (or science) of good decision-making. And as you're no doubt aware, being a manager in the charity sector is all about making the right decisions. Wrong decisions cost time and money and, in extreme cases, can be difficult to sweep under the carpet.

The theory behind The Impulse Factor is based on the recent discovery by scientists of a "potential-seeking" gene. Those who have this gene - about a quarter of the population - have impulsive tendencies that can lead to decisive action or foolish tendencies. The rest of us are cautious "risk managers" who make carefully considered decisions, but who can often fall into paralysing indecision through fear of making the wrong choice.

Once you have identified your type, the next stage is to balance out your tendencies by acting wisely. If you're a potential seeker and find yourself making a rash decision, step back and consult with others. If, on the other hand, you are a risk manager quaking with fear about making the wrong decision, take a deep breath and work out what the worst consequence would be and what steps you would need to take to rectify it.

Either way, remember that most bad managerial decisions can be corrected - or, if you're really desperate, blamed on others.

 - Emma De Vita is editor of the books pages on Management Today

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