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Not Deciding is a Decision Made

indecisionImage by madamepsychosis via Flickr

Sometimes it seems prudent to put off a decision, to sleep on it. Why? One of my mentors once asked me, "what will you know tomorrow that you don't know today"?  We often ask our employees to "execute crisply" or "make the call." Yet many owners will not take the same advice. There are several things wrong with this. 

  • Not deciding on a key issue sends a clear message to your employees and business partners that indecision is OK. If you need more time, make sure you communicate the reason and most important, the date you will make the decision.
  • Opportunities pass by. Your not deciding is most likely closing a window to an opportunity. Let's say your thinking of offering a person a job. The longer you wait the more likely you will lose the candidate and the more money you lose by not having the key resource.
  • You're trying to satisfy everyone. The pending decision will disappoint a employee or partner. Keep in mind while not deciding, you are probably disappointing everyone involved. The longer you wait, the more that disappointment will build. Make the decision. Then communicate first to the person who will be disappointed. Make sure they understand why you chose the path you did. They may not be less disappointed but they most likely will respect you for telling them directly.
  • With out intending to, you look like an amateur. If you are a new business person and are trying to build the respect of those around you, know what you are communicating. A decision not made can cast you as an amateur. That is a tough label to lose.

Mark Suster wrote about this issue a while back in his blog. In it he promotes the idea of "executing crisply" and lists several great examples. 

Here is your assignment: Take 20 minutes and write down every decision you have waiting for you. List how long you have been waiting and what data you are waiting for. Now be honest: When will you receive any more data? Finally, pick a date to make each decision and communicate the date to the people involved. 

Hold yourself accountable and execute crisply!

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Not deciding is making a decision - to defer, but in some cases that is not a bad thing. If you understand at what point your options start to disappear, and target right before that first option disappears to make your decision. You then use the intervening time to gather as much information as possible to help you make that decision so that you are making the most informed decision possible.

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