A Stop/No Stop Decision
"When will we be making a go/no go decision," I was asked. We were looking at a tight deadline on an important project, and there were still some major issues to investigate that would determine whether the deadline could be made. But the fact was, a go decision had clearly been made and we all knew it.
"We shouldn't be looking at this as waiting for a go/no go decision," I replied. "Instead, think of it as a stop/no stop decision. We should keep going until something forces us to stop."
On the face of it, the two types of decision seem equivalent. Someone tells you, at some point, to go or stop. But the truth is, go/no go has an implicit bias toward no go. While you are waiting for the decision to happen, you are not moving forward. When re-framed as stop/no stop the implicit bias is to keep going forward.
There is still a potential obstacle ahead that will need to be cleared before you can finish. You still need to investigate what resources will be needed to clear the obstacle. You still need to notify those with the decision-making authority of that need and inform them that if it is not met the project will not be able to move forward. You still need to stop working on the project if the necessary resources are not granted.
But in the meantime, you continue to make progress. You don't create a situation that, by the time you get approval for the needed resources the project has been delayed to the point that new obstacles have arisen. You have a better chance of finishing the project on deadline, and at any rate when you re-start the project at a later time there will be less work to do.
Granted, you may be working on multiple projects and want to clear space for one instead of moving another forward. That, though, is a prioritization issue rather than an approval one.
Granted, you may spend time on a project that ends up being completely killed, and the time spent is not recovered later. It'll happen. Deal with it. As Thomas Edison said, "I haven't failed, I've just found 10,000 ways that don't work." The way to have more successful projects is to keep moving projects forward until some of them become successful.
Many complain about bureaucratic cultures making it difficult to get things done. Companies encourage their employees to be "more entrepreneurial," apparently not realizing that entrepreneurial people are generally entrepreneurs rather than employees.
Instead of encouraging people to be things they are not, it seems to me that reframing their approach to things would be simpler and more effective.
What do you think? Should changing the language from go/no go to stop/no stop be your first stop/no stop decision?