Escalation of Commitment – don’t be afraid to start again.

Start again.

Easier said than done.

I was painting a room in my house and the colour was somewhere between mustard and green pea baby food.

It had looked ok on the 2″ paint chip, but was not looking so good on the wall.

However…given the 2 hours of labour already invested and the investment in the paint, I convinced myself that it looked ok.

My wife in a moment of pity also agreed that it looked ok and so I invested 5 more hours in painting the entire room.

When I was done I knew it looked bad, but aimed to convince myself otherwise.

My wife knew it looked bad, but also knew I was a little stubborn about buying paint twice so she ‘thought she could live with it’.

We had escalated our commitment.

Even though the project was doomed for failure, we convinced ourselves it would be ok and that conviction grew with time.

It wasn’t ok.

Several weeks later I called in a painting crew, changed the colour and spent the money to fix the problem.

Would it have been easier to change course early on?

Yes.

Would it have been a better decision to change course early on?

Yes.

It is one of the hardest things to do in our businesses.

Rip it up and start again.  These are the exact words from a recent Richard Branson post which echo the same sentiments.

We must be willing to change course.

We must be willing to say the idea we had fully supported needs to be changed.

The earlier we can make that decision the better.

Avoid the escalation of commitment!

 

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