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Deciding in 3D Published: Sunday, February 5, 2012 8:00 am By: Ulises Pabón, Chief Operations Officer

First, the disclaimer: I’m long on IMAX.  That’s Wall Street talk for “I currently hold IMAX stock in my investment portfolio”.  IMAX provides producers with the technology to create stunning wide-screen 3D footage and end-customers with an enhanced movie going experience.  I saw AVATAR in an IMAX theatre and was blown away by the effects.

3D movie making is gaining momentum.  Keep tabs on how many movies are being released with a 3D version and you’ll inevitably notice an upward trend.  3D TV failed to capture consumer’s interest last year – it’s yet too expensive and too complicated.  But at the “big screen”, it’s a different story.  New 3D releases appear every week and old hits are being redone in 3D format.  Movie goers will prefer the 3D option of a movie – and shed out the extra cash to see it – if one is available.  When you combine 3D with IMAX’s huge screen experience, you don’t go to the movies, you go into the movie!

So, I’m bullish on IMAX.  IMAX is growing their footprint of IMAX theatres worldwide while they continue to generate revenue through their wide-screen filming technology.  About 25 minutes of Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol was filmed with IMAX cameras.  The film grossed over $17 million during a 6-day run on 425 IMAX screens before appearing in normal theatres!

Well, so much for investment advice.  What does 3D have to do with decision making?  A lot.

Decision making can be daunting.  When the stakes are high and a successful outcome is imperative, we can be easily overwhelmed.  MBA programs have proven ineffective in equipping students with the proper perspective.  Their focus on tools is at the root of the problem.  While tools and models are useful in decision making, perspective makes the real difference.  When you arrive at a decision making juncture, pull out your 3D glasses and assess where you stand on the following three dimensions.

The first dimension pertains to the narrowness or the broadness of your perspective.  The world is a complex place.  Things are intertwined in ways we can’t anticipate.  There is no such thing as an “independent” decision.  The narrower your perspective, the more inclined you will be to err in decision making.  Broaden the stakeholders you talk to; broaden the disciplines you consider; broaden your field of vision.  You will make better decisions if you understand the forest, rather than react to the trees.

The second dimension pertains to depth.  Many decision making errors are rooted in shallowness.  To improve our decision making ability, we first need to realize that we constantly use models, advertently or not, to guide us in our decision making process.  Whether it’s the Black-Scholes theorem to price an option on the market or a critic’s rating to choose which movie to go to, we are insatiable consumers of models.  Once we become aware of these models, we need to understand the assumptions they are based on and their limitations.  The proverbial iceberg metaphor applies here.  Learn to dive beyond the surface, learn to ask questions, and learn to reflect on when and why your models work and when and why they don’t.

The third dimension of decision making pertains to the static-dynamic continuum.  Becoming an expert in applying analytical techniques to select among existing alternatives is useless when value is created through options that don’t exist.  Decision making theory has been seen as a domain separate from creativity and innovation.  Yet, creating new models is as important, if not more important, than using existing models.  Since change is the only thing that’s constant, your ability to formulate new theories and conjure new ideas will have a direct impact in the relevance and impact of your decisions.

Broad versus narrow, deep versus shallow, dynamic versus static; that’s what 3D decision making is all about.  Work with these three dimensions and the quality, appropriateness, and relevance of your decisions will improve. 


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