The Power of Cheetah Pauses

When companies face times of crisis, their corporate leaders often make accelerated decisions, based on the available information, without involving other stakeholders or measuring the long-term consequences.

This approach has proven – on occasions – not to be the most effective one for the sustainability of the company and has impacted the relationship with the stakeholders.

This is why I was so encouraged when I heard this week about the “cheetah pauses” tool, in a webinar organized by the Columbia Alumni Association, under its Columbia at Home virtual series. The webinar featured Professor Cheryl Strauss Einhorn, from the Columbia Business School, who spoke about complex problem solving and personal and professional decision-making

Strauss spoke of the usefulness of taking intentional, strategic stops in your work, or “cheetah pauses”, when confronted with difficult decisions. She explained that surprisingly, what makes cheetahs amazing hunters is not their speed, but their ability to slow down quickly.  I read afterwards that indeed, cheetahs can quickly change from speeding up to slowing down in a single stride, which allows them to slow down and make sharp strategic turns to get their prey with high levels of assertiveness.  

Moving back to the corporate world, the COVID-19 crisis is requiring corporate leaders to make decisions on pretty uncertain conditions. Under these circumstances, I agree that taking “cheetah pauses” can help us analyze the consolidated data and knowledge, including from other stakeholders, under a different specter that emphasizes creativity and confidence, instead of solely its complexity nature. 

By strategically slowing down, as cheetahs do, we can gain conviction and assertively accelerate, making smarter supported decisions. Very simple, very practical, but so powerful!


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