What’s a Big Buy!

Quite a few times in our lives, we encounter a situation where we need to bite the bullet and move on. It’s a big decision for us. We don’t come across such a situation each day. It’s not the familiar terrain for us; we go there once in a while. Most often, it’s the uncertainty about the future that bothers us and creates doubts in our minds.

The choice becomes tougher when the implications have direct impact on us and especially when the domain of impact is limited to just a few people. Let’s think of buying a laptop that is light, technologically advanced, good-looking and economical. There are many choices before us and we trade off amongst the features and benefits to finalise the choice. Imagine choosing the right candidate for a job. It becomes a bit tougher because we are not certain how the person is going to behave, how long s/he is going to work and if s/he has the necessary tenacity to adapt and deliver. If the position is critical and going to be responsible for a large part of our own deliverables, it becomes further tough. This uncertainty makes us unsure; we look around evaluating multiple options and choose the best. We see the risk here … the new hire could become less than what was desired and we are worried if our reputation, performance or future prospects will be at stake due to the defect or failure in the selection process. This hinders us at times to act fast and we do not take a decision! We find indecisiveness to be a comfortable shelter and shy away from the ‘big buy’. This choice-making gets further tough when emotions are involved beside all the rationale. Think of choosing a life-partner… it’s an event that doesn’t come often in life and at a stage when the mind is tender with inexperience and heart is jubilant with several emotions. It’s definitely a ‘big buy’… implications are very direct, will be felt over a long period of time, exit options are painful, impact is deep and limited to just a few; the decision process here is inter-twined with streaks of the head and the heart!

We are comfortable selecting a government for the future. Even though it’s about an uncertain future, the decision is easier because it is for a limited period of time; the impact is for a huge number of people and hence, the poor results of selection cannot be attributed to me as a person. Emotional connect with a government is pretty limited unless one is an active member of a party or has a proximity to a particular party or individual. Hence, it’s not a big buy.

A ‘big buy’ not only holds the decision-maker accountable for the decision, but its impact is deep and felt over a long period of time. Hence, the decision-maker leaves his/her mark behind as a legacy for the posterity. And if the decision impacts the feelings of people, it’s a bigger buy. Think of the big decisions of Netaji Subash Chandra Bose to form Indian National Army or the erstwhile leaders to agree for Partition of British India or the decision to declare the war against Iraq… Similarly, in the corporate life, the merger and acquisition decisions… they are all big. The decision makers are fearless, optimistic and focused to be able to move ahead.

I see in families and organizations, decisions get slower because there are many silos and turfs; people are either not clear what to achieve or they do not come together to discuss; at times, nobody wants to bite the bullet. There is a very big fear of failure. The environment discusses risks often and not too clear about the mitigation. At times, people get restless and they make an Impulse Buy which doesn’t give them adequate clarity to mitigate the risks. This is not fearlessness; rather irrational exuberance which gives rise to a bubble that is bound to burst some time. So, the desired zone for us is neither to the extreme right where people waste time in discussions, debates, committees and ping-pong, nor to the extreme left where someone jumps impulsively to the well without the knowledge and skills of coming out of it.

A Big Buy is easy if we are clear about the area of impact, the time horizon of its impact and the emotional connect it brings upon. We need to keep communicating with the folks who will be impacted and engage them in the conversation. Simple formula and Workable! Go for it! 


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