“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” “He suffers from analysis paralysis.” “There’s no time like the present.” “I always sleep on it first.” Which is the closest descriptor of your approach to timing and action taking?  When it is time to act, deciding whether to speed up or slow down is for many people a mashup of rational analysis and gut response. For business owners and leaders, deciding whether it is time to act may be a reflection of deeply held values. Or it might be based on habits that may or may not be as relevant now as they were when the behavior pattern was first established.

Emotional impact

Like it or not, your emotions about the current situation play a significant role in your sense of urgency to take action. If you feel pain you want it to stop. Immediately. If you feel anticipation and excitement about an opportunity you want to gratify yourself by getting it NOW. Sure, you might crunch data to make sure that you can justify your decision to yourself and others, but it’s just that – a justification for what you WANT to do.

The bigger the emotional impact is, the more urgency you will feel. If you aren’t feeling it, if you aren’t all that excited, you might be satisfied to sit on it and wait to see what happens next.

Making a rational case

Whether you are emotionally triggered by this decision or not, let’s talk about the rational case for taking action.  How much is your current situation costing you right now in client relationships, in finance, in your ability to manage and your ability to grow and innovate? How much is it impacting your ability to attract and retain the top talent that will be the future of your business?

If you want to look at the rational case you quantify the impact as thoroughly as you can. In business, convert to dollars and/or time, or reference your Key Performance Indicators. For example: you want fewer employee grievances? How many are you receiving now? How much time is it consuming for you to deal with them? What’s the cost at your hourly pay rate? What else would you be doing if you weren’t dealing with the grievances? What is the value of the opportunity that you are missing while handling grievances? What’s the cost of replacing an unhappy employee who decides to quit? What’s the impact on productivity of others during the vacancy and training of the replacement? What is the risk to the business if other people in their same department have the same complaints?

Now let’s look at the flip side – what happens if you fix this, if you can resolve the issue and move forward? Are there dollar implications? Benefit to your KPIs? Time freed up? Other tasks on your list you can complete? What is the impact of them? Is it a one-time impact, or does it have a continuous effect on your results that you could measure daily, weekly, monthly? How about the impact of the impact? (For instance, if you saved $50K, what would you do with that money?)

Your real opportunity is the TOTAL of the upside and downside here. Now compare the total opportunity with the cost to implement the solution. Does it demonstrate a positive ROI? If the ROI says go, and you delay, there’s something more that is impacting your go-no go decision.

The missing ingredient

What we haven’t talked about yet is the impact of your trust in the solution, and/or your faith that the situation can truly be improved. Sometimes it feels like holding still is safer than taking action when you are not sure about the outcome. Why does it feel safer? Yes, you do need to do your due diligence and research the solution – to make sure that it is reliable and it is the appropriate remedy for this case. As for your faith in the possibility for improvement? Here we are again with the emotion that drives habits. Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” If you think you can’t, that is where you have to start.