The pioneer of instant-photo technology, Polaroid, might have also been the pioneer of digital-photo technology. In fact, it had a prototype digital camera in development early in the 1980s. But Polaroid's leaders wanted to maintain their advantage with instant-film photos, and as a consequence did not enter the digital-photo market in a big way until 1996. And they were beaten by competitors in the digital race.
Adam Grant tells that story in his LinkedIn article, "How to Escape from Bad Decisions." He refers to such behavior as "escalation," and says, "To stop escalation, we need to understand what causes it. One factor is sunk costs. Economists have known for years that we're irrationally attached to the time, energy, and money we've invested in the past. It's already gone, so it should no longer figure into our judgments, but it does."
Also, he says, acknowledging a mistake is a threat to the ego. "We don't want to be seen — or see ourselves — as failures," he writes, so we try to make our mistaken decisions seem right after all.
How do bad workplace decisions happen? What can we do to avoid making them?
LEARN MORE ABOUT BAD DECISIONS IN THE WORKPLACE:
• Adam Grant speaks at Google's global people operations summit.
• Make Good Decisions Faster
The biggest hurdle to fast and roughly right decisions is criteria overload. Trying to weigh every possible objective and consideration from every possible stakeholder shoots the decision process in the foot before you even get off the starting line. Of the seven or eight possible objectives you would love to meet with this single decision, which one or two will make the biggest positive impact? Of all the possible stakeholders which one do you least want to disappoint, and what is the objective they care most about? (Nick Tasler)