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Mixed Management

Some managers, business leaders and politicians make

a virtue of being resolute and sticking to their guns no

matter what, and are often admired for it. Such leaders

are good at presenting big ideas, enjoying the limelight,

and staunchly defending a sunk decision regardless of

the outcome.

Others are specialists for the dark times, receiverships

and turnarounds. When they have done their job, such

troubleshooters are encouraged to leave and make way

for more optimistic types and those with “flair.” They

have picked up the pieces from the sunk decisions

made by others, but there’s not much glory to be had for

this breed who surely drive sensible cars, wear sensible

suits and go on sensible vacations.

The third breed of managers are open to persuasion.

They are flexible in all circumstances, can be swayed

by a good argument and listen to the evidence. They are

credible and acceptable because they don’t often have

personal sunk decisions to deal with. However, they

may fail to assert their point of view and while they

are liked, they generally get ignored when something

important comes along.

A sunk cost decision* is the same as a sunk cost investment –

if it’s wrong, it’s wrong, but ego and character and a human

reluctance to revisit awkward situations can turn such decisions

into expensive mistakes. Admitting to a sunk cost can lead to a

loss of face and reputation, and no one wants that.

Text: Dirk Frame