A smart CEO consults both experts and peers when diagnosing what ails the business.A dear friend was recently told by her physician that her cancer had returned…and that she probably would not survive six months.  My friend sought a second and third opinion, after which the diagnosis was changed substantially.  While she does indeed have a recurrence of cancer, the type is significantly different from the original diagnosis.  It is treatable without harsh chemicals or radiation, and the new prognosis is for many additional years of life.  Can you imagine the emotional roller coaster she’s been on?

A misdiagnosis can be tragic in any situation, even when it applies to your business.  As CEO, how can you minimize the chance of this type of mistake?  I recommend three steps.

  1. After your first diagnosis or conclusion, step back.  Consider the big picture and frame the “disease” in the context of the history of your business, your industry, and your resources.  What are the likely consequences of your next actions if your diagnosis is inaccurate?
  2. Consult an expert – maybe more than one.  If the crisis is financial in nature, what specific kind of expertise is required?  If it’s a marketing crisis, to whom can your reach out for a second opinion?  Same question for human resource or operational or legal crises.
  3. Finally, bounce it off an experienced sounding board.  How many other CEOs do you know and trust?  Give your final diagnosis the test of experience based on feedback from others who may have been through similar circumstances.

Treatment after a misdiagnosis can literally be fatal.  Take the time to obtain a second and third opinion.

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