In business, there is much written about measuring the ROI – Return On Investment. But there is another measurement tool that a business owner should consider – COI, the Cost of Indecision. This is the loss of revenue and momentum that occurs when a business owner can’t make a decision or refuses to delegate.

Business advisor, Simon Sinek, shares thoughts on leadership that often translate into action moments. Simon says, “the job is not to be perfect, the job is to be better.”

By procrastinating, you postpone any chance of success. Even worse, stalling the progress after making a decision thwarts the efforts of those entrusted with moving the business forward.

My firm recently completed a marketing assignment for a business owner plagued with indecision and second guessing. A rebranding and website development that could have easily been completed in six months – took well over a year.

This resulted in a serious COI, caused by an owner who was fixated on having things perfect instead of being better. The first six months were filled with “sharpening pencils, rolling up the sleeves” meetings that should have been collaborative, idea-generating and creative. Instead, they were micro-managed by the owner with a death grip on the process to make sure that only his vision was heard.

This stranglehold resulted in a loss of enthusiasm by his key people and our team.“Why did he hire us” became our post-meeting anthem. Our role went from authority to vendor and his key people went from collaborators to followers.

I do know that his inability to accept change caused a serious halt in production. And there was a high cost for his indecision. For those within his company, he was seen as a bully – though often soliciting their opinion – his voice was the one last heard. In time, their input ceased and they withdrew from the project.

So what was the real cost of his indecision?

It took twice as long as it should have. His chokehold and narrow-mindedness took his company, key people and paid advisors on a road trip that ended right back where it began.

After our watered-down work was delivered, his parting volley was “I’m not sure that we’re any better off than before we started.” As insulting as that was to first hear, it was the truth.

Along the way he paid a high price but never really felt it. And that’s the sad part of all this. This was not a learning experience. Although every delay was documented, as was his bullying – somehow it wasn’t his fault.

Thankfully, most clients are not bogged down by this paralysis. Most business owners welcome innovation, enjoy change and actually listen to those who have a shared interest in the success of the company.

The wonderful advertising sage, Leo Burnett, said “any fool can write a bad ad, but it takes a real genius to keep his hands off a good one.”

Contributed by Jim Naylor
MCA – Maryland Marketing Director