Nothing is so exhausting as indecision, and nothing is so futile. So said Bertrand Russell, British philosopher, mathematician and political activist. Aneurin Brevin, the Welsh Labor politician put it this way: We know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road. They get run over.

Making decisions means risking what is known for what is not. In my line of work, I have seen many organizations mired in keeping the status quo because the bogeyman in the hall is whispering, what if you’re wrong? The irony, of course, is that by not making a decision—right or wrong—you end up doing nothing, and this poses a far greater risk because your competition is certainly doing something. ​

Fear of the unknown and fear of being wrong are formidable inhibitors to decisive action. There are others, such as a reluctance to be held accountable, but even that is anchored in fear. Another inhibitor is being overwhelmed by the number of factors involved: the people who will be affected, the processes that will change, available resources, and so forth—aspects I call the “what.” The “why” of a decision is the part usually easily identified; Something has driven the case for change. It may be an eroding top line, a dissatisfied customer, excessive overtime, the competition, or staff malaise. But how to address the “what”—that becomes the immovable object stopping many decision-makers from acting quickly and decisively. Often, they feel compelled to have all the answers before embarking on any course of action. Unfortunately, seeking those answers, they usually consider the internal ramifications—conditions within their control—and neglect those coming from external sources such as the market, competition, technological advances, etc. And those considerations don’t wait.

This is why Change Management is an important weapon in your arsenal against indecision and inaction. Change Management builds the business case by objectively assessing what is versus what should be and engages the organization in why it is good for them. It garners the right sponsorship and builds coalitions; it demands commitment and ferrets out resistance; and it focuses the entire organization on a singular goal. Change Management is grounded in communication—communication that is clear, consistent, and candid. Change Management champions intellectual honesty and trust, and encourages open dialogue and debate that fosters buy-in and mitigates the possibility of decisions being undermined.

Theodore Roosevelt got it right: “In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” Decisions should evolve; they should never be made in a crisis. Making decisions is a daily event. If you don’t make the small ones today, you will have to make a big one tomorrow—chances are, it won’t be pretty.