The greatest risk is doing nothing

A couple of weeks ago I caught up with an old colleague and I was reminded about the cost of indecision.   When faced with difficult decisions often the riskiest (and costliest) course of action is simply doing nothing.

During uncertain times, indecision seems to permeate across organisations like a heavy dark cloud.    Under stress it is not necessary about whether there is a ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ mentality but one where a mood of procrastination is the prevailing wind.    When evaluating which options to pursue there can be a tendency to ask for endless detail and diligence.   This is often the cue for furious action to evaluate costs and benefits of what to do and yet more delays.   Decisions get deferred, investment delayed and resources left frantically spinning in circles.

When experiencing delays like this you should always bear in mind the cost and impact of simply doing nothing.   Complex issues and problems tend to create an environment of analysis paralysis.    Failure to decide and take action is often more corrosive than not doing anything at all.

As we navigate through uncertain terms both politically, economically and socially we could all do well to remind us of the importance of being bold.    One of the key leadership capabilities needs to be the ability of taking bold, courageous decisions.  Richard Branson sums it up nicely with this quote: “It is only by being bold that you get anywhere.”    To build on Branson’s point, failure to take the bold decision can leave you paralysed and in the end lose out more than taking a perceived ‘riskier’ change.  Being bold, making decisions, moving forward keeps organisations and people on the move.

Whilst advocating making decisions for the sake of it is wrong.   You always need to think and act methodically, rationally and applying sound evaluation.   Being ‘bold’ should not get in the way of doing sound due diligence and analysis.    But when faced with a decision to make it is always worth remembering the cost of doing nothing and that often an make the fear of the unknown more palatable.


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