decision paralysis

Every Project Right Now cartoon

I recently stumbled across the old cliche adage attributed to Cicero: “More is lost by indecision than wrong decision.”

Every business is being asked to make decisions with incomplete information right now.  What limited information we do have can change quickly. There’s often no clear right call in such a climate of uncertainty.  And so, the default decision is no decision at all.  That’s the path of least resistance.

INSEAD professor Nathan Furr recently published an HBR article called “You are not powerless in the face of uncertainty.”

Nathan writes about how we can “develop a capability to deal with uncertainty — to find the possibilities and opportunities within the unknown, rather than to panic and retreat from risk.”  I like thinking about this as a “capability,” something that individuals and organizations can exercise to get better at over time.  

For all the talk about organizations learning to “be agile” over the last few years, this uncertain period is the acid test.  It also highlights a related skill that organizations will need to adopt — resilience.

One of the experts that Nathan Furr cites is Nobel chemist Ben Feringa:

“What is the next step that I can be working on? Get resilient at handling the frustration that comes with uncertainty.”  

Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years:

Being Agile” May 2018

Shifting Priorities” May 2018

Making Decisions” (part of a project with the NYU Entrepreneurial Lab in 2014)

Recession Survival Tactics” January 2009

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Marketoonist | Tom Fishburne


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