Do Nothing

I am a fan of ‘do nothing‘.     do nothing

Many a rainy Saturday in place of doing that home improvement thingy, visiting a friend or going to a movie – I have elected to do nothing.  On a personal level I support you all and appreciate your support.

In business, I do not support that choice

choices       As a business leader when you are considering

a new market
– how to respond to a competitive threat
– a market shift
– a customer complaint
– growing faster or slower than forecast
– improving a process, product or service
– acquiring or being acquired

and so on, you have standard options.directions

  1. approve the change
    • new market, responding, answering, expediting/slowing, optimizing, buying or selling
  2. reject the change
    • either back to the drawing board or select another option
  3. do nothing

Both 1 and 2 require a risk to be taken a reward to be gained.

Number 3 avoids risk.


See with 1 or 2 the person proposing the change has in some level of detail (or lack there of) stated the risks and how their proposal will over come identified risks.  Along with the rewards – ROI via growth of revenue and/or profit.

There is also yourself as the approving business leader or your devil’s advocate

love finance(often those Finance type people – whom I love – no sarcasm, actually love them)

will provide the counter argument

stating by rejecting this change in place of another option that has either or both a higher ROI and less risk.

Strangely, rarely have I seen where number 3 is evaluated with the same detail.

The main exception is related to compliance requirements where the do nothing risk is a fine or worse.

As such, choosing ‘do nothing‘ is horrible for your business.  The choice is not based what is better for your business as you have no evidence (risk analysis or ROI) that it is a good choice.  It certainly is not a bold choice.

choose do nothing

Yet, with only the evidence of my experience and those conversations with colleagues and friends, I would submit that ‘do nothing’ is the most often option that business leaders choose.

Leaders need to be aware of the risk of this avoidance behavior.  It is not safe, it is backing yourself into a corner.

Business leaders who are proposing changes, need to account for ‘do nothing‘ as a competing option to that new market, competitive response and other changes they are striving to accomplish.

Oh yeah, delaying a decision

  • putting off to next quarter due to other priorities
  • looking at this at the end of the year
  • requesting the proposal to be more detailed
  • need to add additional options

is the same as ‘do nothing‘.  Just ‘do nothing‘ now, but we  really plan to

do something sometime‘.procrastnator


2014 Still no jet packs and flying cars, but what about your business’s versions

Yes, you have heard that complaint before but, my pondering took me to the business side.  No jet packs needed (though Amazon is experimenting with those droney things).

So let’s talk about a few things.

One – why the heck are we still printing so much?printer

Has your business reduced paper use by half in the last 5 years?

Are most ‘reports’ still coded for printing?


Let’s get past that because I don’t what the paper industry to get upset, not that they ever learn about this entry.


Two – Excel.

excel-cartoon-lores(1)Do I have to say it?  You know what I am talking about – all those commercials about smarter planets.

Yet, along with myself and most colleagues who work for large companies still use spreadsheets not as standard decision making reports, but the go to for ad-hoc reporting.

I would surmise that 90% of all analytics data from whatever tool you purchased still makes its way into a spreadsheet.



Last – The information you need to make the decision at hand is available at by merely asking for it.  You know like Star Trek (thank you, Gene Roddenberry).  

‘Computer, which of my customers will go to my competitors this year?’


‘Computer, what is the quality of my data of that I am using to decide the most important directions of my company?’

Nope, if you are lucky you get to pull up a standard report and modify it to add other data or calculations to get close to those answers.  Or, if you are truly lucky you have both the access to the data and have been able to build your skills to pose your questions through a query tool.

Now to my point which is not a rant about we do not have the future of business technology we were promised.  Unlike jet packs, we DO have the future we talked about for business technology.

We have the technology that is not cutting edge, but proven and that could do away with the need for printing anything via large size monitors, tablets and dashboards versus row and column reports.

There is analytic tools that go so far beyond spreadsheets and many are in place in most businesses now, but their use is limited to a few who will invest the time and gain the reward they promise.

And, yes the same tools combined with collaboration and mobility technologies allow you to get answers to questions by asking them, not running a report.

Consider this, the future is here the only thing stopping it is the lack of embracing the change. change







Full disclosure – I own a printer, a recent copy of a spreadsheet program (OO) and currently work for a company that sells those Smarter Planet guys stuff.