In baseball, there is something known as the 3-2 count (three-two). It means three balls and two strikes. It means the person who is up to bat has only the next pitch to get something done.
Three strikes and you’re out. If the pitcher misses the strike zone and the batter waits to swing, it will be called a “ball” and the batter gets to walk to first base.
While all pitches in baseball count for something, there is nothing like the three-two moment to feel the pressure rise.
The same is true in business. Managers and leaders have to make decisions all the time, but only some of those are real “3-2 decisions”.
What do you do when you realize the situation is a 3-2 moment? Some managers freeze. They ask for more data. Or they try to stall in some other way.
Other leaders are quick and confident to jump in and make the call.
What makes it so much different?
According to John Maxwell, the 3-2 count results in something he calls “PGE results.”
Pain, gain, and experience. The outcome of the decision you make in a 2-3 moment results in PGE.
Pain – the results might be painful. The results can be painful to you, your team, the company, and even the community you serve.
During Hurricane Harvey in the Texas Gulf Coast area, a tough 3-2 decision had to be made by the Corps of Engineers. Two large dams northwest of the greater Houston area were about to burst from being overfilled by 52″ of rainwater.
A 3-2 decision was made to intentionally release water from the flood gates, pouring into thousands of homes downstream. Billions of dollars of damage happened.
Yet, had they NOT opened the gates, the entire structures could have burst, flooding out most of the entire Houston area, some 6 million inhabitants.
It was a very painful result for some, but it saved so many others.
Gain – the results will be rewarding. Good decisions can result in a miraculous gain. Once I was flying some friends in a small single-engine airplane, a Piper Arrow.
The weather had changed from good to bad as we approached our destination. Plus the winds had picked up and shifted to crosswind conditions.
Crosswinds are the worst kind of wind to land a plane. It means the wind is blowing across the runway, causing a force that pushes the plane sideways while you are trying to follow a straight line to land.
I took in all of the information I needed from the tower about landing that day. I set up my final approach and begin a severe crab angle to land. Crabbing involves turning the plane at as much as a 45-degree angle to the straight line of the runway.
With the angle, you fight the crosswind until the last possible moment when the plane has to be turned into alignment with the center stripe of the runway. I won’t go into all the details, but we experienced a textbook crosswind landing that day.
My pilot training had prepared me to do that landing in a definite 3-2 situation. My passengers appreciated the fact we got home safely without incident despite the bad weather that day.
Experience – Working through a 3-2 decision gives you added experience. Experience alone is not a good teacher. Informed experience, studied and analyzed gives you better instruction.
Whatever the outcome, the experience from making a 3-2 decision needs to be evaluated and reviewed. What you learn, once properly vetted, can be applied to future decisions.
In the baseball story, if the batter strikes out on 3-2, he will review the video replay of that at-bat. Anything he can find about his stance, his swing or his posture, will help to improve the odds of making the next 3-2 situation have a better outcome.
Managers and leaders have to stay sharp for 3-2 conditions. As I write this, I’m hearing leaders expressing concerns for their people, businesses and families. Rightfully so. There is so much uncertainty.
This is one giant 3-2 situation. Use your informed experience to muster the training and resolve you need to make good decisions for your team, your family, and your community.
Be strong, stay well.