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Steps for a Business to Avoid The Culture of “Maybe”


As outlined in a prior article, a culture of maybe develops in a business when a decision that impacts a business needs to be made and the company’s leadership or owner avoids a “yes” or “no” determination.   Instead, business leadership finds themselves getting trapped in “analysis paralysis” where either no decision is made or a decision is made too late for the business to take the best advantage of a situation.   This article will discuss steps a business can utilize to avoid analysis paralysis and the culture of maybe.

Speed is Often not the Best Solution


When a business encounters or there is a corporate habit of indecision, their leaders often first look for options to accelerate the decision-making process. It is regularly the situation that a faster decision-making process is usually not the solution to the underlying problem.

Unfortunately, leaders then often go too far in the other direction and seek shortcuts rather than developing a proven system for decision-making. While looking for shortcuts to streamline the decision-making process, business leaders mistakenly eliminate important procedural steps that would help them make a correct decision.   Oftentimes, these leaders then began to look for analogies more frequently and leave their business vulnerable to flawed analogical reasoning.   For example, they attempt to find correlation to disparate areas of their investigation where no correlation exists.   In addition, these leaders also often adopt the “conventional wisdom” approach in both their industry and organization to the point where they become a permanent carbon-copy of their competitors. Simply copying your business rivals would be unlikely to lead to any long-term competitive advantage.

When examining a business decision, it is best for leaders to avoid term “faster” as the answer to effective decision-making. Instead, the terms “smarter” and “efficient” are the better approaches.   A business needs a comprehensive decision-making process. This process should include certain deadlines and milestones in order to arrive at a decision in sufficient time to be effective—whether the decision is yes or no.

Develop a Clear Set of Expectations

When a business has developed a clear set of expectations for how a final decision will be made, it has often eliminated the opportunity for “analysis paralysis” to take hold.   These expectations must start from the top with a clear and concise set of procedures and goals that are implemented from the leadership downward.   Vagueness becomes subject to interpretation, which breeds delay due to a lack of definitive purpose or goals.

Establish a Deadline When the Decision-Making Process Changes

Often times, the language used by business leadership leads to a culture of maybe because personnel cannot determine exactly when all information is to be compiled and continued investigation completed.   A system in place that helps business leadership communicate to their personnel that the decision process will change at a critical juncture from information gathering to decision making helps achieve a timely decision.   A set deadline or the establishment of thresholds when certain portions of an investigation are complete allows the organization to move toward a known goal and final decision.

Imitation is the Highest Form of Flattery

            As outlined above, it is important that a business avoid an exact duplicate of what their competitors are doing because copying your business rivals is unlikely to lead to any long-term competitive advantage.   However, analyzing and adopting the procedure and behavior of a successful business can be utilized—especially when the business has no current procedure in place.

            Although copying the decision-making process of a successful business may not lead to a competitive advantage against that competitor, it does allow a business to initially stand out from your other competitors who have either not developed a successful procedure for decision-making or are in the throes of “analysis paralysis.”   Then, over time, a business should hone its own individual decision-making processes which capitalize on its unique situation and also the lessons learned from their successful competitor.

Develop a Third-Party Confidante

Every business should build a relationship with an independent confidante who will not only offer sound advice but can also bolster the leader’s confidence when he or she becomes indecisive and overly risk adverse.   An outside consultant, friend, business advisor, or legal counsel can be utilized in this position.   This individual’s primary purpose is to look after the best interest of the organization itself.   Since the individual is not totally beholden to leadership, he or she would be more likely to provide the blunt assessment that most decision-makers need to arrive at a final conclusion.

Once a Decision is Made Closure Should Occur

Once a decision is made, the organization must immediately move forward.   If the decision is “yes,” the plan must be implemented wholeheartedly.   If the decision is “no” then the organization should move on to new decisions and goals.   Constantly looking back and questioning the decision made, can lead to “analysis paralysis” on future decisions because there is no finality to any decision.

In addition, a business needs to develop a culture where there is no sense of recrimination within the organization.   If individuals or sub-entities were on the opposing side of the ultimate decision, they need to know that their input was needed and that there would be no negative effects because of the position taken.   This allows for a culture where new ideas and opposing viewpoints are allowed and welcomed—instead of the business developing a culture of “yes,” which has its own inherent dangers as well.

©2015 Matthew W. Harrison and Harrison Law, PLLC All Rights Reserved

This website has been prepared by Harrison Law, PLLC for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.