When much to the relief of our European allies the United States finally entered World War II, Winston Churchill famously said that Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing, after we’ve exhausted all the other possibilities.
I’ve known too many CEOs who act this way. They agonize interminably about getting rid of the executive who is making it harder for others to do their jobs, or repeatedly put off exiting an unprofitable business which has no real hope of a turnaround. When presented with an opportunity to invest in a new business or technology, they equivocate for too long, lowering the probability of success when they finally decide to move ahead.
Time really is money, and delay is not free. You not only degrade the result of the decision through delay, you squander management attention and money by working out “all the other possibilities.” The motivation of your team and your credibility as CEO are compromised as well.
Try the following technique. When you’re faced with a decision and can’t make up your mind, give yourself two seconds to decide. Not later, right now. Then go do all the data-gathering, analysis and possibility-exploring you’d like, and decide again. You’ll be surprised how often (more than nine times in ten) your initial instinct is verified, because even the first time you decided (in two seconds) your brain had already been processing the decision and the data for a long time.
Part of being a superb leader is learning to move on less information and therefore to move faster. By doing so, you multiply what your company can achieve and how far it can go.