From where we sit

Would you rather?

Anton Ng Anton Ng

“Would you rather eat a chocolate-flavored poop or a poop-flavored chocolate?” That’s my nine-year old’s favorite “Would you rather” question. “Would you rather” is a game we often play to pass time. It is a game my wife and I introduced to our kids to generate conversations and laughter. It was interesting for us as adults to hear how our kids, at their very young age, make choices and reason out. Oftentimes, the choices are between bad and worse or between something good and better, depending on a person’s biases and perspective. A year ago, at the latest, my second daughter would simply copy the choice made by her older sister but, as the younger one gained more experience, she is starting to make her own choices and her reasoning begins to become more complex.

In this day and age with a myriad of choices brought about by technology, the importance of being able to make wise choices becomes more and more critical. Both at the individual and organizational levels, there is a gamut of choices to be made every single day.

Different choices would have a different impact on our lives. Choices that would only affect the short-term should be dealt with swiftly, like deciding on the clothes you would wear for today or the food you need to order for tomorrow’s office meeting. Choices affecting the medium-term should be given a bit more time, like pursuing graduate school or deciding to adapt an open working space to replace cubicles at the office. Then there are choices that would have a much longer and significant impact, like quitting your job and starting your own business or changing the business model of the organization you are leading. As the impact of the choices to be made becomes more significant, the deliberateness on how those choices to be made should become more apparent.

Choices are what make life more exciting and vibrant. Imagine a world where there are no choices, where everything is already laid out for us, that we are told what to do and what to do next.

Choices allow for autonomy, something that younger generations clamor. Allowing for choices also supports the notion that not all people are the same, that people have different preferences and ideas for how to run their lives. There are people who thrive being their own boss, while there are others who are great working in a structured team. There are people who are more productive in an open working space that allows them to move freely and have more face-to-face conversations with the people around them. There are others, however, who want to be holed up in a cubicle, because they can focus more on the work they are doing. Add to these the option of working from one’s home, despite the presence of the television and bed.

Choices are costly. As we offer more options to the people we serve, it would cost the organization more. For individuals, having more choices sometimes costs us more in terms of the amount of time we need before we finally decide. An office that has the flexibility of either working in an open space while, at the same time, providing small conference rooms for those who would rather be in closed spaces could be costly. Add to that the option of giving your employees the opportunity to work from home. Can you imagine the different policies you have to craft, the amount of time it would take to coordinate, and the infrastructure that is necessary to make all those things available in an organization?

But here we are, in a world where Netflix, Airbnb, and Amazon provide us with thousands of options. Gone are the days of simply choosing between a few television channels, of looking at only a handful of hotels to stay in, of just choosing which shirt looks good based on the inventory in a retail store.

Oftentimes, however, the multitude of choices paralyze people into ceasing to act. Because we do not have an anchor to base our choices on, it now takes us much longer to deliberate on our choices and, when we decide too swiftly, regrets would sometimes follow.

Choices should not be anchored on who we are on a given day. Rather, our choices should be borne out of the truths we hold closely. Our whims and feelings may change from day to day, even our intentions may change, but the truths we subscribe to have a better chance of being more permanent. Like the classifications of financial assets under Philippine Financial Reporting Standard 9,
Financial Instruments, an entity can only reclassify when the business model changes, which is expected to be a rare occurrence. If we craft and eventually subscribe to our personal business model, or on how we operate based on our very core, our choices would now have an anchor.

Some refer to it as guiding principles, others call it moral compass, while some consider them their personal ethics. I call them the truths I believe in. These truths should serve as our framework in developing the goals we want to pursue. These truths and goals that we now have would serve as the factors that should greatly influence the choices we make.

I would always choose to eat poop-flavored chocolate, because one of my personal truths is that I am created in the image and likeness of God. I don’t think eating poop is consistent with that truth.

Anton Ng is a Partner of the Audit & Assurance Division of P&A Grant Thornton. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading Audit, Tax, Advisory, and Outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 21 Partners and over 900 staff members. We’d like to hear from you! Tweet us at: @PAGrantThornton, like us on Facebook: P&A Grant Thornton, and email your comments to anton.ng@ph.gt.com or pagrantthornton@ph.gt.com. For more information, visit our Website: www.grantthornton.com.ph.

 

As published in The Manila Times, dated 16 January 2019