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Go-No Go and the Black Hole between

As we face the end of our Space Shuttle program (only five more flights remaining), I’m struck by the “Go-No Go” mentality of NASA’s can-do Mission Control teams at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Think about it. “Go-No Go” translates into, “We’re going forward until we tell you to stop.” Success-oriented thinking. A “Go-No Go-er” manages risk by assessing potential outcomes and making reasoned decisions based on the probability for success. If new information comes, reassess and alter direction.

Now, let’s consider the reverse: “No Go-Go,” which means “Do nothing until you’re told to do something.” A “No Go-Go-er” is risk-averse, because risk may lead to that dreaded thing: failure.

Let’s face it: You can NEVER be wrong if you NEVER make a decision.

Think about the people around you: workmates, family, friends. How many do you know who operate in a holding pattern until they get a green light? Far too many, I expect. I call it the “Black Hole of In-Between” – the never-never-land spent waiting for something to happen or someone to give direction.

Often, I’ve observed, that we may be waiting for someone to make a decision and, all the while, he/she may be caught in the Black Hole of not knowing what decision to make. My suggestion: throw them a rope! Get busy and develop solutions to present to your leadership. Be the “Go-No Go-er” who gets things moving. Make a decision. It’s worth the risk. Really!

Previous post on Beth Beck’s Blog: http://bit.ly/BBBlogGoNoGo

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Sam Allgood

Some good thoughts. I would disagree with one point though. You are wrong at least once if you NEVER make a decision … you are wrong in being so indecisive. I guess its the reverse of the broken clock that is right at least twice a day.

Beth Beck

Hmmm. Good point. But, I’ve worked with many who think ‘not’ making a decision IS the right decision. They avoid failure at all costs. (Which, to me, is failure. To them, it’s a win.) Matter of perspective, I guess.



I’m with you Beth – a line I’ve always loved is “no decision is a decision.” And “Is the pain/cost of a long decision-making process worse than a wrong decision”.

Part of the debate with gov’t vs private sector is the cost of no decision. The cost of Yahoo not buying Facebook when they were small is that FB is more powerful than them and stronger and more profitable. The cost of a gov’t official not making decision may not be so clear cut.

Beth Beck

Bureaucracy is the visible cost of government officials not making decisions — or making the decision to have more meetings before making a decision — or making the decision to write a paper about what some decisions might be for someone else to decide at a later date.

But, that’s just one bureaucrat’s opinion. 🙂