Sometimes no decision is the right decision

I always used to believe decisiveness to be a good attribute for a business leader… and I guess I still do… normally.  It can be very confusing and demoralising for staff to be left in a vacuum.

I do though nowadays recognise that there are times when it is right to take time about a decision for good reasons or simply tactical reasons.

Good reasons might include allowing time to consult and for those being consulted to think about and maybe come to terms with the change.

And tactical reasons may not always be philosophically ‘good’ reasons, but may be equally valid as a means of getting the ‘right’ result.  I remember fifteen years ago attending a PLC board meeting to try to get approval for a decision I wanted and half way through the discussion being told quietly to shut up by my boss (a full PLC board member) to be quiet and leave it to him.

I was frustrated that at the end the discussion was postponed and no decision was made. Afterwards I asked him why he stopped me arguing the case. He explained that the responses in the early discussion had suggested we weren’t going to get a favourable vote, so he had decided that now he knew where the opposition was coming from and on what basis we could work offline to address the concerns. And we got the decision we wanted the next month!

Written by Bob Bradley, founder of MD2MD.