Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Devil and Decisions

A couple of lessons are to be learned from the business this week regarding the permanent headquarters of the California stem cell agency.

One is the appropriate way to present complex material for quick and sound decisions. Second is the old cliché about the devil in details.

The background agenda material for the site selection subcommittee was very late in coming. But when it did come it was clear, complete and concise. The decision points were identified and the rationale was coherent. We suspect that was largely the influence of the State Department of General Services, which has eons of experience in making such presentations. By contrast, the stem cell agency's agendas are often muddled and confused, which bog down the meetings and make it difficult to make good decisions.

Failure to mind the details savaged the losers in the bidding process for the headquarters. One wonders how supposedly accomplished executives and their staffs managed to omit simple documents from their applications. It is not as if the selection panel overlooked the missing information. Calls were made to the losers to verify that they failed to send in their coupons, so to speak.

The fiasco does bring to mind March's meeting of the Oversight Committee and the fracas over the missing information on the presidential selection criteria(see Fumbling the CEO Search April 4 on this blog).

The tale of the permanent headquarters is not yet finished. There is talk of appeals by the disgruntled to the Oversight Committee. Ratings could change as a result of site visits and other considerations. One can only imagine the lobbying and political pressure that will come the way of the Oversight Committee members, who probably should take their phones off the hook.

Here are links to this morning's stories on the HQ affair: Sacramento Bee, San Francisco Chronicle, San Diego Union Tribune.

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