No Decision involves finding innumerable reasons not to make a choice. Some of these reasons can make sense on the surface, but the underlying reason for playing this game is that if you don’t decide, you can’t be punished for making a bad decision. The impetus for playing the No Decision game can come from a variety of sources: people are new to the function or business and don’t trust the information they receive; they come from a slow-moving industry where there was more time to make decisions; they are intimidated by a chaotic, fast-moving environment and believe they’ll be “safe” if they avoid deciding. Players of this game are often skilled at looking as if they’re simply being cautious and are focused on making the right decision slowly. In reality, they are creating task forces, holding meetings, issuing white papers, and creating the impression that they’re taking action while in reality they are simply biding their time.
Example: A key position opened up at a major packaged goods company when an A player product manager decided to leave and join a competitor. This was a big loss for the company, and a lot of debate ensued among senior leaders about why he had left and what they might have done differently to keep him. The CEO weighed in and said that it was critical they replace the departed manager with an equally skilled individual and make sure they kept him in place for at least five years. The HR vice president in charge of the search to fill the position started the process by interviewing others in the organization and trying to identify the right specs for the job. Then he began assessing whether any internal candidates existed who met the specs. When he determined that none did, he began looking outside for a qualified candidate. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find anyone who was a “good fit.” Ultimately, he recommended that the organization split the responsibilities of this unfilled position among three other managers and renew the search in six months to see if a good candidate could be found then.