"Do something. Even if it's wrong it's better than just waiting."
"You have to make a decision."
"Let's get started, and we'll figure it out as we go."
Over the years, I've heard many variations of this particular bit if advice. In some instances I was influenced by the implicit pressure, while other times I was able to successfully resist. One thing I can now say for certain is that some of my worst decisions were made while relying on these types of arguments as the justification for forging ahead.
The truth of the matter is, if you feel uncomfortable about a decision, there is probably a good reason for that. Giving in to pressure under such circumstances is a prescription for trouble. It is quite rare to run into a situation where you don't have the time to satisfy yourself on any point that makes you uneasy. To make good decisions requires examination of piles of information including: estimating the most likely outcome, developing best and worst case scenarios, assessing project risks, interpreting political risks, figuring out likelihood of success, and plenty of other factors. Making complex decisions is as much an intuitive process as it is a calculation. Getting comfortable with these factors shouldn't be rushed.
And if your gut tells you to hold off, it's almost certainly a bad idea to let others push you into moving forward.
I recall several instances where I felt rushed into things. A few times I resisted external pressure and things came out okay, Others, especially when I gave in, turned into major disasters.
For a number of years, I was on the receiving end of strong pressure to get a project started in China. The first time this came up, I held meetings with a Chinese government agency responsible for a couple of semi-failed factories originally set up to copy an older version of our product. The proposed path forward was for us to develop a joint venture with the factory, update the manufacturing operations, and upgrade to our latest designs. The partner would take responsibility to drive sales in China, and we would provide export sales. Everything sounded reasonable on paper.
But I wasn't comfortable, probably because I already had bruises from previous ventures in China under my belt.
Instead of succumbing to the pressure, I set some basic goals for the partner to achieve before negotiations moved forward. When the people we were talking to couldn't get those done, the talks fell apart. As far as I was concerned, it was a bullet dodged.
A few years later, I wasn't quite so lucky. In that instance, the deal was similar to the one I just described, but in this case the partner was a publically-listed firmthat seemed to have reasonable commercial capabilities. Still, I had my doubts.
By this time, I'd been fighting the pressure to establish just this type of arrangement for several years. I had been worn down. After again setting some hurdles -- ones that our own people helped the partner to complete -- I gave in. We inked a deal that ultimately led nowhere. In the process, I wasted substantial management time and financial resources trying to turn a bad idea into something tolerable. In the end, I had to rate the project as an abject failure.
In my final example, I set some longer term goals for the development of a new manufacturing process that would greatly reduce my employer's overall costs and provide a competitive advantage to the company. While the concept was promising, there were a number of "kinks" to work out before the project was ready for investment.
Unfortunately, an "opportunity" emerged to make the investment and avoid another capital expenditure. The only problem was it was at least a year too early. The pressure I felt to move forward, in this case, was primarily self-imposed. I ended up proposing the project despite the fact that there were still several major unknowns in the technology.
You would have thought I'd know better by then.
Every major area of innovation created problems during implementation. And there were several "sure things" that also caused difficulty. The project fell far behind schedule, and eventually it became clear the initial productivity and cost projections would never be achieved.
That failure cost me. I lost loads of credibility, and ultimately my job.
If I'd simply waited, completing the development program according to my original timeline, and patiently watched for a less risky opportunity to implement the project, things likely would have been different.
So when you feel pressured to do "something," chances are you should probably sit back, relax, and make triple-sure you really are convinced any decision you make is the right one. 20.2
Other Recent Posts:
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If you are intrigued by the ideas presented in my blog posts, check out some of my other writing.
Non-Fiction: NAVIGATING CORPORATE POLITICS
To the right is the cover of the Audiobook version of LEVERAGE, which I narrated. The story revolves around an offbeat engineer working for Global Guidance Corporation who shows up one night at Mark Carson's house shot and bleeding out. Mark decides to investigate the crime himself, and plenty of complications ensue as he uncovers a wild conspiracy.
My novels are based on extensions of my 27 years of personal experience as a senior manager in public corporations. Most were inspired by real events.