Due diligence is about keeping big decisions in the right order: ready, aim, fire. To do something right, we have to follow a process that ensures we are educated enough to make the decision or commitment, have good focus and knowledge of what we want, and are able to pull the trigger.
But sometimes we get the sequence wrong because we are too eager or too in love with an idea or person. Instead of "READY, AIM, FIRE," we go "FIRE, READY, AIM."
We pull the trigger before we have done the due diligence, and we get into trouble.
To be ready to make a good decision means that we know ourselves and our vulnerabilities. What we know is that we are too needy or vulnerable to make a good decision, or if we've done due diligence and are truly ready to look at our options and make a decision. We also know if we are strong enough to endure a mistake. How much will it hurt? Will it kill me? The wisest business people I know sometimes pass on good deals or opportunities because they don't have the resources needed to proceed. They say, " That is a great opportunity, but we are just not ready for it.
Our balance sheet is not where it needs to be," or "Our infrastructure is not ready and could not handle the growth that fast," or "My people are still two years away from being able to execute something that large." Or they say, "If this deal ran into any problems, our pockets are not deep enough to work them through." They wait until they are ready before they leap.
To aim means that we now have our goal and desire clearly in sight. Our focus is aligned with our mission and purpose. If we have not decided on the values we want to include in a relationship or business alliance, then anyone who comes along might do. But if we know that we want to share certain long-term values and purposes, then when someone good comes along but does not fit what we are aiming for in those key areas, we will pass - no matter how attractive the opportunity might be.
We need to know what we are about, what we are looking for, and what we are focusing on in order for things to work well. Otherwise, we will be all over the map. Sometimes in business, an acquisition comes along that is a good deal but does not really fit in the mission of the company, so they pass. Or perhaps a really good person comes along, but their values and priorities are not a match. So the company passes.
Finally, we have to be able to pull the trigger and go for it. We can never have 100 percent certainty. We have to take risks in order to grow and win. We cannot be impulsive, but neither can we be paralyzed, waiting to know things that are unknowable. After we are ready, and after we take aim to know our focus, we must be able to take the plunge. Jump in the deep end. Fire.