When the pathway forward is replete with obstacles and complexity, committing to the status quo and staying the course is always the easiest decision. Any time leaders face uncertainty after they review and discuss the facts and consider competing views on what to do, the attraction of the status quo rises. Maintaining the current choice requires relatively little from leaders, which makes it even more appealing.
While it is true that staying the course can sometimes be the best decision, great decision makers don’t allow uncertainty or complexity to lull them into a passive commitment to the status quo. Instead, they use a simple heuristic to narrow the choices and to reduce uncertainty, which often points them to a more active decision.
The heuristic is straightforward: Reduce the time horizon for the decision.
In other words, consider the decision within a more immediate timeframe. For example, presume a decision is complex and creates uncertainty because it involves numerous stakeholders, all of whom will have a strong reaction to any decision. The unpredictable and possible reactions produce a whirlwind of uncertainty. A leader can reduce this uncertainty by viewing it as a near-term decision. If the decision was to be made tomorrow, what stakeholder reactions would take precedence?
Anytime a decision maker reduces the timeframe, complexity and uncertainty melt away. The decision that best suits a narrower time horizon points to a clear path forward. Stop giving uncertainty too much power. Shrink it, instead.