Deciding Without Deciding

You know the saying, "if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice." During a recent project I encountered a company handicapped by indecision at the highest level. I was originally approached to consult on the development of content for this company's online and PR objectives. Basically, what they wanted to do was reposition their brand after a year of failed advertising. And, they wanted this completed yesterday. Part of the strategy involved putting together a team of highly skilled web developers, photographers and film makers to create an innovative and dynamic branding platform. This is right up my alley. I'm thinking this is going to be a cake walk.

The most obvious short coming was that they had no imagery of any quality. In order to put out a head turning website and series of ads we needed a series of mind blowing images. No problem! So, I gathered my team and started to drive the process. Now, this company knew full well going into this project that they would need photography. They make the requisite down payment and off we go, right??? Well, we need to schedule the photo shoot. The request is made to approve the plan and relevant expenses. No answer is received. One week goes by, then two, then three and still no response to any of our emails. What the hell is going on? Well, as it turns out, every decision rests with the CEO who is, as I find out, incapable of making a decision without first hiring a consultant.

The consultant part is a joke, but you get the point. We are not talking about a huge amount of money for the photography component, so what gives? What happened to the sense of urgency? How and why do companies enter into this type of engagement without thinking through the process as it has been laid out. You want to know why? If you do not know what you are doing and you are taking advise from people that do not know what they are doing, you do not get very far before your weaknesses are exposed. The weakness here is that in a company this large, if there is not one manager, director, V.P., attorney and even the CFO that can authorize payments, nothing gets executed.

Wow, bureaucracy at it's finest. What happened you ask. I walked away, refunded the deposit and told the company that I would not allow my name to be associated with their half measures. The entire project hinged on having the right images. They made a choice to proceed with the amateurish photos they had on hand and again failed to execute on their goals. What's worse, not making a decision or making a decision by indecision?

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