The DO NOTHING Option

Driven to act. Do more with less. Faster. Cheaper. More.

When we are discussing efficiency, innovation, or general project management how often do we discuss the ever-present option to “hold”, “punt”, “fold”, or simply DO NOTHING? This less-glamorous, inverse-of-innovation is counterintuitive to corporate culture and needs a refresher. When is the best decision the decision to walk away?

I’m not referring to the catch-phrase-of-the-day “kicking the can down the road” sort of doing nothing. I’m talking about the strength and wisdom necessary to walk away from a project when the truly best option is to let it lie. Yes, I said true strength and wisdom. Wisdom to know the difference between “questioning everything” and zero progress.

If taught and asked to generate true value, can you question the initial premise itself? Absolutely. Is there really even a project here, or are you only managing the project from handoff to handoff? The fact is that this question is valid, but it will only generate value if it is as carefully and objectively analyzed as any other innovation-motivated breach of protocol. Put the Option through its paces in an isolated, unbiased discussion of merit. Sunk costs and political pressures aside…should we walk away?!? Now consider this potential project from a program perspective and whether or not there are more effective ways to spend this project’s budget.

Management of the discussion of this option takes practice as does all innovation management. However it is a valid option which is woefully underrepresented in the discussion of value creation and innovation. If we are asked to do more with less, are we achieving this goal by doing nothing?

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