What is the cost of doing nothing?

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Cost of doing nothing

According to the Human Potential Project, “There is an insidious and silent killer of productivity and profitability that is affecting your P&L every year.  For some this will be measured in millions, for others in billions.” What they were referring to is the high cost of maintaining their status quo and doing nothing.

This dilemma isn’t new; it’s been around since the beginning of time. There are some things that we can’t do anything about, but those things that we can, and don’t, with regards to our business is what is costing organizations so much more than just money. It costs them time, efficiencies, relationships with their employees, customers and business partners as well as peace of mind.

We all experience indecision at times; it’s part of the balance in our lives that makes us stop and analyze things before we take action. It is a natural part of human nature. The problem is increased when the decision-making process gets bogged down with too many people being involved in the final outcome. We have seen this phenomenon evolve more and more, in recent years, as executives want to take less responsibility for being the sole decision maker and, therefore, spread the “risk” among other people. Gone are the days of the sign that was on Harry Truman’s desk, when he was president: “The Buck Stops Here”. We are more likely to see this sign “The Buck Passes, But Does Not Actually Stop Here”! So, as more and more people become involved in a decision, we often see a greater risk of indecision as people are afraid to be on the wrong side of a poor decision, and it is safer to stay with the status quo and do nothing.

The greater the risk, the greater the fear to change. In their article “The High Cost of Doing Nothing” by the Ken Blanchard group, they state “Even though change – like a leadership development initiative – can be disruptive, difficult and financially challenging, taking no action is often the most expensive option of all.” They go on to say that “In our estimation, the average organization is leaving hundreds of thousands, and in most cases millions of dollars on the table each year as a cost of doing nothing.”

Indecision can cripple an organization, and taking no action is often the most expensive option of all. So, where does the buck stop in your organization, or does it? Do you have strong enough leadership within your organization to capitalize on opportunities that will save your organization time, money or resources when they are presented? Or, are you an executive by committee organization, where all decisions are made by committee?

Don’t get me wrong, good executives need to involve others in their organization that have insight into the problem they are trying to solve and heed their advice and counsel, as that is the smart and prudent thing to do. However, getting too many irons in the fire with regards to deciding whether to go forward, or do nothing, can cripple an organization and cost money and waste precious time!

The fear and risk of making a wrong decision, and being held accountable for that decision, keeps people from moving forward, so they wind up doing nothing. This can often be the most costly decision they can make. At least that’s the way I see it, what say you?

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