Macro vs Micro Decision Making, or Is It Macro AND Micro? Which decision-making style is for you?

When you are a new CEO you have at least 5-10 juicy decisions to make every day. Each decision carries the burden of both intended and unintended consequences. My simple goal is to make more good decisions than bad decisions as perfection can never be achieved. One of the key factors in decision making is whether you optimize for macro benefits or micro benefits.

Whether you optimize decisions for the short term or the long term is a fundamental leadership trait.

Another way to over-generalize this phenomenon is to label you a “doer” or a “dreamer” as those labels highlight where you spend most of your brain time. Like many of these issues, it is complicated. I find that some leaders are better at short term OR better at long term. Some can see the next 3 months of tasks, while some can craft a 3-year vision. I see these as different parts of the brain at the very least.

Some may argue that you need to craft a balance between the two and organize your workload by creating blocks of calendar time for each one of these activities. That approach seems to argue that each one of these activities is like a light switch that you can just turn on or off as needed. I don’t know many of any that can do that consistently.

The answer for me is the notion that it is not “or” and it is not “balance” but simply “and”. You need to take both macro and micro challenges into your decision making at the same time. Like working both arms and legs in your daily workouts, these muscles must work together in a seamless manner.

Good examples are:

  • your 2023 Budget AND your monthly P&L
  • your fundraising deck AND your first customers satisfaction
  • your product strategy AND today’s feature value

Want to build your leadership muscles and be better at decision-making? Try training your brain to keep both macro AND micro viewpoints open at the same time.