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APB’s Mike Hayes Shares a Framework for Making Good Decisions

18 Aug 2022

APB’s Mike Hayes Shares a Framework for Making Good Decisions

Mike Hayes, former Commanding Officer of SEAL Team TWO, Author of Never Enough and APB Speaker, was recently featured in an article in Fast Company on decision-making. Hayes, along with Ryan Angold, former Navy SEAL and CEO of ADS, Inc., shared three steps Navy SEALS use to make the right choices. The pair said they use the same framework for any decision, from the mundane to a life-or-death choice. It includes collecting information, deciding a timeline for the decision, and reassessing and course correction if necessary, the article says.  

For gathering information, Hayes likes to get feedback and ideas from those who don’t think the same as he does. “Too often, we tend to seek out like-minded input,” he says in the article. “Artists tend to hire artists and engineers hire engineers. By getting input from people who don’t think like us and by having a culture that celebrates differences and raising other ideas, you help people be comfortable saying things like, ‘Hey, sir, I don’t think that’s a great idea. Here’s how I would do it.’ That framework enables the best possible decisions.” 

The most important step in the process, however, is giving yourself a deadline to make your choice. “The first decision is when to make your decision,” he said in the interview. “That’s the thing that most people get wrong.” 

The final step in the decision-making process is to course correct if necessary. Don’t be too proud to realize changes need to be made. “That is the ultimate sign of leadership because it’s a sign of comfort in your own skin and not needing to look good in front of an organization,” Hayes said in the article. “Instead, you’re putting the organization before self and doing the right thing.” 

As Chief Digital Transformation Officer at VMware, Hayes leads the company’s worldwide business operations and the acceleration of the company’s SaaS transition. Previously, he was SVP and Head of Strategic Operations at Cognizant Technology. Hayes also served in Chief of Staff and COO roles at Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest and most successful hedge fund. 

A  20-year veteran of the US Navy SEALS, Hayes served throughout South America, Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia, including the conflicts in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. His last job in the Navy was Commanding Officer of SEAL Team TWO, which included 10 months as the Commander of a 2,000-person Special Operations Task Force in Southeastern Afghanistan. A White House Fellow, he served two years as Director, Defense Policy and Strategy at the National Security Council. In the Bush Administration, Hayes was responsible for the START Treaty, where he produced a new proposed START Treaty and conducted negotiations with the Russians in Moscow. In the Obama administration, Hayes led the White House response to President Obama’s first major foreign policy showdown—the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama off the coast of Somalia.  Prior to the White House Fellowship, Hayes served as the Deputy Commander for all Special Operations in Anbar Province, Iraq. 

Hayes holds an M.A. in Public Policy from Harvard’s J.F.K. School of Government and received his B.A. from Holy Cross College. His military decorations include the Bronze Star for valor in combat in Iraq, a Bronze Star for Afghanistan and the Defense Superior Service Medal from the White House. Hayes’ work has been published by the RAND Corporation. He is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a member of the board of directors of Immuta, a data governance company, and of the National Medal of Honor Museum, and a senior advisor to Inherent Group, an impact investment firm.  

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