Have you figured out the consequences of not deciding?
In Dan Ariely’s book, Predictably Irrational, he shares a good story to demonstrate the consequences of not deciding:
“A hungry donkey approaches a barn one day looking for hay and discovers two haystacks of identical size at the two opposite sides of the barn. The donkey stands in the middle of the barn between the two haystacks, not knowing which to select. Hours go by, but he still can’t make up his mind. Unable to decide, the donkey eventually dies of starvation.”
The potential cost of indecision
While this story is fictional, it points out the potential cost of indecision. We observe this behaviour often with people in leadership positions. These leaders are holding their teams back in doing so. We have two suggestions that help get to a decision:
Just make a decision!
We suggest the actions you take after making a decision are more important than the decision itself. In other words, you can take actions that will make either decision the right decision, but you need to pick one first in order to get going on them. This frees the person to make the decision. If you think back to the donkey, either decision gets him fed once he decides and starts the action of eating the hay.
The 10-second question
This really works! We simply ask our client, “If you had to decide in the next ten seconds, which option would you take?” It is surprising how many people who were struggling with a major decision actually answered it in less than one second!
In summary, when you actually add up the costs of not making a decision, you will realize how your ‘predictably irrational’ behavior could be holding you back. Simply ask yourself the ten-second question, pick an option and then make it the ‘right’ decision with the actions you take once you have decided.
P.S. For more information on the origin of the donkey story, check out the link to Jean Buridan’s original story ‘Buridan’s Ass’.