Business Politics Practices – Delay Tactics
Delays are a powerful tool that can be exercised by almost anyone. Such tactics serve to put off undesired (by the person initiating and/or perpetuating the delay) action and, ultimately, prevent action through exhaustion of the resources (time, labor, money, interest/patience) needed to sustain forward progress.[wcm_restrict plans=”50807, 25542, 25653″]
For delay tactics to be successful, they need to slow or postpone the undesired action long enough that one or more sustaining resources is exhausted; resulting in the action’s termination. Dependent on the power and will of action supporters, a combination of delay tactics and/or repetitive delays may need to be employed.
Those controlling the resources necessary for the undesired action and/or supporting/underlying course(s) of action can simply ‘find other things’ for those resources to support in order to affect the delay. For those not directly controlling these needed supporting resources, common delay tactics include but are not limited to:
- Demanding that others not present or readily available weigh in on the course of action or supporting/underlying course(s) of action
- Being frequently unavailable to provide input on or approval to the course of action or supporting/underlying course(s) of action
- Asserting named and unnamed issues resolvable with your involvement coupled with your inaccessibility or a statement (whether true or not) that the action owner/team did not involve you
- Deferring with counters that require additional verification, commonly using terminology such as “I think,” “I heard,” “I believe,” “I understand,” or “in my experience” followed by “can you check/verify.” This becomes even more effective if you control or influence the availability of the information and can delay access to it
- Bringing into question the adequate availability of resources to complete the undesired action or underlying/supporting course(s) of action
- Overwhelming action proponents with:
- Safety concerns related to the course of action or supporting/underlying course of action whether valid or not
- Condition/issue reports for which the creating, processing, or addressing thereof consume or otherwise engage resources needed to advance the undesired action or supporting/underlying course(s) of action
- Using logic fallacies driving further investigation before proceeding with the course of action or supporting/underlying course(s) of action (see StrategyDriven Decision-Making Warning Flags – Logic Fallacies Introduction, The Gamblers Fallacy, Weak Analogies, Distinction without a Difference, and ad hominem: Personal, Not Issue Attacks)
- Making intellectually empty/irrelevant assertions that require further investigation. This becomes even more effective if you are positioned to participate in the investigation and/or need to approve the outcome and become frequently unavailable (see StrategyDriven Decision-Making Warning Flag – Intellectually Empty Assertions)
Other, less potent delay tactics include:
- Claiming the undesired action and/or supporting/underlying course(s) of action are contrary to the organization’s traditions, culture/norms, or interests whether such assertions are valid or not
- Asserting the undesired action and/or supporting underlying course(s) of action are undocumented within the organization’s strategy, policies, and/or procedures
- Postulating that the undesired action and/or supporting underlying course(s) of action would be detrimental to individual(s) careers even if the action(s) benefit the company
Depending on the organization’s risk tolerance, other delay tactics include:
- Labeling the action and/or supporting/underlying course(s) of action a ‘first of a kind’ or ‘first time performance’. Note that this can be done even if all of the action components have been previously performed by the organization if the collection of components have not been previously performed together
- Demanding exceedingly, even unreasonably high levels of contingency (labor, oversight, schedule, and/or pricing) such that the actions become unaffordable to the customer or organization
Delay tactics can be used during formal meetings during which decisions regarding the undesired action and/or supporting/underlying course(s) of action are being deliberated or during informal interactions with the action owner/team. In some cases, the later interactions are more effective as they can be used to further delay necessary formal approval meetings and typically involve less ‘powerful’ players who can be more easily influenced.[/wcm_restrict][wcm_nonmember plans=”50807, 25542, 25653″]
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