¶ … Heidi Roizen
The case examines the decision-making process and career trajectory of Heidi Roizen, a venture capitalist and former entrepreneur.
As a leader it's easy to see the wise decision-making pillars that Roizen was able to exhibit consistently throughout her lengthy career. One of the gems which is contained in the case study is that Roizen had the killer instinct of understanding that one should get to know people before they become famous: in that manner it's a lot easier to get to know them. As Levy at Softbank explained, "Heidi simply likes to know and be friends with good-quality, talented people -- that's her primary motivation. In some ways, by investing so much time in these people -- she's placing a bet -- but those bets have paid off in her past." This tendency of Roizen doesn't represent any of the common decision-making pitfalls that so many people fall into in so many business scenarios. People make bad decisions as we've explored in class because of elements like "group think" and based on skewed, exterior issues like time constraints, information constraints, skewed cognitive load, memory/attention constraints, imbalanced motivation, and bounded rationality. Since Roizen was operating from a place which was primarily based on her own killer instincts, this wasn't something that she had to worry about. Instead, her motivations came from a place of genuine interest.
Another aspect which continued to shape the success of Roizen's career trajectory was her decision to leave her current position and to join Apple. Roizen had already been a long-term supporter of Apple, and her decision in the 1980s to join their company, while being a big win for the Apple Company, could also have been seen as a poor business decision: at this time Apple was continually facing a rampant downward spiral. Even so, Roizen remained a strong personal and professional supporter of the company. The fact that Roizen believed in this company in spite of the fact that the numbers continually showed the company to be a poor and unpromising endeavor is another example of Roizen's sharp decision-making abilities. In fact, at the time this decision was made, one of Roizen's colleagues could have accused her of over-confidence. "Mistakes estimating time needed to get projects completed, deals secured, etc. Not exactly the same as arrogance or overestimating ability -- it's more about forecasting (making predictions) and having too narrow of confidence intervals. Not fully capturing the extent of uncertainty around your predictions." At this time, the numbers didn't reflect that Apple would be a safe bet to invest in. The numbers didn't demonstrate that joining their ranks would be a wise decision, not just for Roizen but for anyone. In fact, the entire move, no doubt looked questionable from an outside point-of-view. But Roizen was making this decision based on her gut and her interior knowledge of the company. This meant that she was deciding to support them largely based on the fact that she had a personal rapport with the company for many years and felt as though she knew them and could support them in a well-informed manner that was wise. Thus, she was able to see past the decreasing numbers and profit margins that Apple was projecting at the time.
Another pillar regarding Heidi's success was that her personal and professional consistency was something that helped conflict to be avoided. Consistency meant that the people who worked with her knew what to expect from the interaction and they knew that she was someone who would continue to keep her word regardless. This allowed her to establish a certain level of trust with everyone that she encountered. Essentially this is what the case study refers to as consistency. "Consistency means that in each interaction with that person, you are consistent in your actions. It's important that people understand how you're going to respond with some consistency. I've dealt with some people in this industry who do one thing one day and something completely different the next -- they're not consistent, and that makes it very hard to have a relationship...
If a relationship is built on performance and consistency, you can actually get by with fewer interactions and still maintain a good relationship." This means that one can still be able to overcome the bulk of the underlying issues which can so often lead to conflict.
Conflicts are often caused by miscommunicated expectations, or difficulty in understanding the needs of a particular project, or having different priorities when it comes to pushing forth the needs of a particular project. These differing viewpoints can lead to different perceptions of need of a particular project and can easily give one the impression that a project requires different things than it actually does. Other causes of conflicts that can occur within decision-making are as follows: Mistakes estimating time needed to get projects completed, deals secured, etc. Not exactly the same as arrogance or overestimating ability -- it's more about forecasting (making predictions) and having too narrow of confidence intervals. Not fully capturing the extent of uncertainty around your predictions." These were issues that Roizen simply never ran into by virtue of the fact that her strong personal skills and generally upright character prevented her from ever having to deal with. Because of the fact that she was always so consistent, and because of the fact that this caused her to be so well-liked and more than anything -- trusted in so many of her actions, conflict, or rather, unnecessary conflict, was something that was consistently avoided time and again.
This is why it made so much sense that Roizen became a mentor capitalist. Professionally, this role came up in the ideal time during her career. Roizen was professionally burnt out with all the issues that had been long going on at Apple and had devoted many years of her time and energy to that particular company. Instead of taking a risk in investing more money and energy into a new company, Roizen became a mentor capitalist, investing instead, her knowledge and know-how to ensure that a given company would succeed and flourish.
One position that Roizen was always in as a result of her intense and truly beneficial personal contacts, is that people were always reaching out to her to use her personal contacts in some way, so that others could benefit from them. One could see this as a source of potential conflict or as at times a tough decision-making process. It can be a little nebulous as to whether or not one should use one's personal contacts in certain situations. Roizen had a fascinating rule of thumb which was simple and which generally guided whether or not she would reach out in given scenarios if someone asked her to use some of her personal contacts. She would determine whether the interaction would benefit both parties or just one of the parties. If the interaction would end up benefiting both parties then she would take the risk and reach out. This criterion appears to almost be a hybrid of both the risky-choice-frame and the attribute frame. The risky choice frame, has a "tendency to avoid risks when situations are presented in a way that emphasizes potential gains and to take risks when presented in a way that emphasizes potential losses: Risk averse for gains, risk seeking for losses, attribute framing. With attribute framing there's an overall tendency to assess a characteristic with more positivenenss when it is presented in a more positive manner than in a negative manner.
This is evocative of how Roizen would make her decision. She wouldn't necessarily instill a given interaction with a positive interaction or imprint if it didn't potentially already have one. She would however, look to determine whether or not a given interaction had a potential to be positive for truly all members involved.
More than anything, one could see the attributes and foundational pillars of Roizen's success as largely connected to the fact that she had certain old-school values of courtesy. Roizen naturally understood the demands on people's time and the needs that different people brought to particular interactions. Roizen understood that when it came to doing favors and asking for favors, there had to be a certain two-way street involved. As Roizen explained, one couldn't always be standing with one's hand out all the time, and one couldn't always be performing acts of goodwill. There had to be present a certain level of balance. This instinct touches upon the element of reciprocity that we've studied in class: "People are more likely to comply with a request from someone who has previously done something for them: There is a norm of reciprocity across all cultures. We seem to be hard-wired to feel obliged to pay people back when they do something for us." Roizen was instinctively sensitive to this interaction and strove to hone it in a balanced fashion in all of her work.
Roizen also had appropriate levels…
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