In today’s rushed world, we struggle to make consistent, well-thought-out decisions. Out of time and pressed to make an “on-the-spot decision,” we deal with what seems like the most pressing issue and we ignore the longer-term problem until later.

I found the book “10-10-10” when looking for employee-motivational materials. Conceived and written by Suzy Welch, this concept provides a framework in which nearly all decisions can be structured. While not all people will come to the same conclusion using this framework, it provides a systematic method to make consistent decisions for family, fun and work.

Minutes, months and years

The reasoning is this: Each situation must be looked at in three time-span patterns to make sense of it and rationally determine the best fix. That is, how will the problem affect you in the next 10 minutes, the next 10 months and the next 10 years?

Of course, you can adjust the times to best fit your reasoning, but it gives a framework for right now, the pretty-near future and long term. Also, “10-10-10” translates well for our Spanish-speaking workforce, so they can make decisions that look at all three time-frames, not just the one staring them in the face. Here are a few examples of how “10-10-10” works.

Day-to-day impact

Take dipping a calf’s navel. Many times, employees think it’s not so important just now, and that they will get around to it later.

Taken to the next 10 months, if the calf isn’t alive because these things were completed late, or not completed at all, it’s no big deal to the bottom-line (at least from their perspective). But take it to the 10-year mark — calves did not grow to produce milk or add their own offspring to the herd — and the entire dairy is put at risk, including the employee’s paycheck. So, it appears that while the first two parts of “10-10-10” are not much affected, the long-term scenario makes it a priority to dip the navel RIGHT NOW.

The “10-10-10” concept works for showing up at work, too. In the next 10 minutes, being late is possibly a death knell for your employment at the dairy. How will that affect you in the next 10 months? Will you be paying the rent? Will your spouse stick around if you end up unemployed? Will you have other job prospects?

In the next 10 years, having been through several of these scenarios, will you be making enough money for the car or truck of your dreams, get your children through college or pay your bills? This analysis helps you make the decisions based upon a triangle of outcomes, all leading to a balanced and consistent means of determining actions.

Long-term thoughts

The same goes for employers. Will it matter who you hired to work at your dairy in the next 10 minutes, 10 months, or 10 years? Are you simply finding a warm body for now, or looking at long-term productivity?

Filling a position with a poorly fitting employee doesn’t pan out in the 10-month or 10-year scenario. Waiting for the perfect employee might leave too much work on everyone’s hands, or it may pay out in less torn-up machinery because you found the right person for the job.

The framework makes you think how that employee would be performing in the next 10 months and if you would really want him around in the next 10 years.

I apply this concept to reading articles, getting a better education, spending time with my family, adding debt or whatever. It’s the fastest and easiest means I have ever found to making fast, high-quality decisions that I can live with.

Mary Kraft dairies with her husband, Chris, near Fort Morgan, Colo.