The “Do Nothing” Choice

I work in a support role, so usually people don’t ask for my help when things are running relatively smoothly. “If ain’t broke don’t fix it,” works for me.

As a result, it seems that I am usually dealing with things (processes, plans, departments, business performance) that are in various states of disrepair. Often I get involved when they are broken enough that some triage/ first aid is required in order to buy time to enact a long-term solution. At that point, the only thing to do is to offer a variety of possible first aid measures, explain their benefits and then ask the decision makers to select a course of action.

When given the options in these situations however, the decision makers quite often do nothing; the fear of making the wrong choice stops them from doing anything. We then all watch as things go from being a little broken to being really broken, with the time to fix them rapidly ticking down.

Trying to implement something new or change something is scary. The possibility of failure is real but it is far outweighed by the looming failure linked to the choice to do nothing.


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