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Any decision beats no decision

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The new owner of several coal mine shafts in Harlan, Ky., was puzzled: Should he heed the advice of the grizzled ex-miners he’d bought the shafts from and embrace the new technology of open-pit mining, which a new competitor had done?

Or should he expand his current business by digging another shaft?

Several months passed while the owner weighed his options. He asked the miners if he could both start an open-pit mine and dig a new shaft. But the miners said doing both would be too expensive. And, some warned, starting a new way of mining (open-pit) posed a risk.

“There’s a larger risk,” one of the miners advised, “and that be doing nothing. They’re (the competition) gaining on us, and we don’t have either the new shaft or an open pit.”

Still, the new owner hesitated. As he hemmed and hawed, the downward pressure on coal prices—which the open-pit competitor fueled—hurt his profits. He ended up selling all his mines at a slight loss.

Lesson: Indecision causes lost opportunities.

— Adapted from Corporate Canaries, Gary Sutton, Nelson Business/Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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