Even a cursory look at the worlds of business and politics leads one to the inevitable conclusion: bad decisions are easy to make, and leaders in our society are making more of them. The phenomenon is everywhere, whether it’s Hewlett-Packard writing off billions of dollars on ill-conceived acquisitions, the Obama Administration’s selection of notorious money losers in the so-called “Green Economy” or the fiasco of Project ORCA, the Republicans’ get-out-the-vote operation for 2012, which will go down in election history as a monumental flop.
We deserve better. Business writer Erik Sherman looks at four common mistakes in an intriguing article on Inc.com:
1. Monumentalizing the Trivial
2. Dredging Sunk Costs
3. Drowning in Data
4. Do-or-Die Mentality
Excellent points all, but the last one is particularly compelling. Decision-making is supposed to be a pragmatic process, but often degenerates into the inflexible choice of a hill to die on rather than problem-solving. Sherman notes:
Realize that every decision is temporary. Conditions will change, and you can almost always change your mind and course at a later date. You might lose some time or money in doing so, but better that than racking up the sunk costs and driving into a brick wall from stubbornness.
As decision-makers, we must be willing to always ask the question: “Is this really working?” And if it isn’t, own up to it and change course. Good advice for business, and good advice for politics, especially for a GOP trying to come to terms with its (albeit narrow) 2012 loss.