Waiting: The Most Costly Business Decision

Who would have thought that “waiting” as a business decision would become as archaic as a typewriter, Rolodex, or other tools that used to be a part of everyday business? Back in the day, and that means about 15 years ago, companies could get away with plotting a new strategic direction, product or service, and then take their sweet time to implement. Maybe they wanted to assess the market more, or build redundancy in their supply chain… whatever it was, they would wait and wait some more. Back then your only real threat was the competition possibly beating you to the punch, but they were also taking their own sweet time, and the threat wasn’t that pressing.

What happens when we try and wait in today’s supercharged world?

  • Existing Competition Hot on Your Heels: If you are becoming aware that waiting is killing your business, assume your competitors are twice as aware.They are not waiting and are in aggressive execution mode. We see this often with larger companies moving like molasses. They think they are about to take the lead in their industry with a move they waited forever to make, only to find a competitor has beat them to the punch. Ouch!
  • Corporate Espionage: Spy vs. Spy had some funny caricatures but the reality is about as funny as getting hit on the head with a plumber’s wrench. More and more companies are spying on each other to get a leg up and are pulling it off. Want to give away your advantage to your competition? Wait to implement a great idea and give them the window they need to steal it and come up with their own solution/discovery/product.
  • Chinese Hacking: This one makes corporate espionage look like a picnic on a sunny day. According to Mike McConnel, former director of US National Intelligence, China has hacked every major corporation in the United States. China showed that they can sometimes copy something faster than many companies can distribute the original. This is a real example of what can happen when you wait. You’re just giving them extra time to bring their copy of your product to market.
  • New Competition: Quicker, faster, easier, and more nimble is how new competition is coming into the market. Digital accelerates their entry and the business decision to wait gives new competition the time they need to get through their baby teeth and grow some serious fangs to take a bite out of your market share. If you’re already a market player and you let this happen because you waited, well, you kind of deserved it.

Decisions that feel solid and make you want to hurry up are researched, piloted, tested, and analyzed. Sometimes waiting happens because you don’t have a business decision process. That makes you wait because you are scared, confused, or just plain lazy but whatever it is, you need to know how to get past the waiting because the above list has only four possibilities and there are endless more.

Speed Up Your Business Decision: Stop Waiting

  • Be Brave: Fear of a bad business decision causes waiting aka paralysis and paralysis is the number 1 tactic for predators to prepare their prey to be killed and eaten. Think about that… but not for too long.
  • Research It: Sure we said to be brave, but that doesn’t mean going full cowboy. Moving into a new strategic direction? Want to launch a new offering or just want to try a new tactic to gain leads? Research what you are doing with empirical data and market research to support your conceptual idea. Force yourself.
  • Pilot It: OK, you researched it and you’re feeling good. Now is the time to validate your business decision. No more waiting, no more anything. Push yourself and the organization to act. For those of you that have to retool a facility and spend millions to pilot, this may not be an easy option so being exhaustive with the research is your only option before moving to a pilot.
  • Test and analyze It: If you went through all the trouble to research and pilot, you better be testing and analyzing. Testing tells us more than just whether the pilot works or not. It tells us if our process of conceptualizing, researching, piloting and making a business decision is sound. If it is, then we can start gaining speed. If not, it then tells us that we need to tweak a bit or maybe the whole process. Constantly analyzing results is not a nice-to-have with pretty graphs and pictures, it’s cold hard cash either in your pocket or burnt up in a blaze.

Once you have this process in place, you’ll find that you won’t want to wait anymore because you actually have a path. No methodology? Waiting will become your business decision over and over until one day, you won’t have a business. Do you really want to wait around for that?

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