As a leader, I have found that one of the things I’m called on to do often is make decisions. Duh, that’s easy, right. Except some decisions aren’t easy. I LOVE easy decisions. A costs more than B; B is better than A, anyway: PICK B! But those are rarely the decisions that come before me. And when decisions are hard, it is tempting to delay decision making, hoping the decision will get easier in the future.
Sometimes that can be helpful, but usually an unmade decision costs you more than you might think. Here are a few costs I’ve experienced by delaying decision making:
1. Lost choices: Sometimes delaying the decision results in the loss of an option. Your decision may get easier three weeks later because you no longer have a choice. Taking what’s left may or may not have been what’s best for the organization.
2. Lost time: I often put off decisions until I can get more information, or so I have “more time” to think about it. But almost every decision will require execution on the other side, by you or by someone else. The extra two weeks you spent making the decision is now lost for the follow through on the back side.
3. More expensive: Very few options get cheaper because you put them off. By delaying decision making, you may end up paying extra to the printer, the designer, or another outside group to rush things once you get it back to them. Even if you’re pulling on another team member, you’re spending relational currency to get them to execute on a tighter deadline. In my world, short deadlines often force me to use paid staff or contractors, rather than volunteers.
4. Lost creativity: I have worked with a lot of creatives in my 10+ years in ministry and I have learned that creative juices take time. Rushing a creative is usually asking for stale material or a copy, rather than giving the time for something fresh to be developed.
What other costs have you experienced due to delayed decision-making?