The Tyranny of small decisions

Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash

“The tyranny of small decisions is a phenomenon explored in an essay of the same name, published in 1966 by the American economist Alfred E. Kahn. The article describes a situation in which a number of decisions, individually small and insignificant in size and time perspective, cumulatively result in a larger and significant outcome which is neither optimal nor desired.” — Wikipedia

The Tyranny of small decisions in management and leadership is a tricky phenomenon. Whilst, not perfectly translatable, the concept can be used to understand how little things can cause big issues long term in your teams.

Often times as managers we do the logical and rational thing and address bad behaviour that certain individuals undertake. Some individuals can have long periods where they are constantly misbehaving or requiring you to address issues they have caused in the workplace. Each time you rationally address the bad behaviour, again and again you keep addressing it as you should do. But eventually, the situation explodes and the person involved has enough, lashes out and quits. They started to resent you, or they felt they couldn’t do anything right with you.

As a Manager you did the right thing, you addressed the small issue with that person. But cumulatively all of those small decisions lead ultimately to a significantly negative outcome, the person lashed out and quit.

As a Manager keep an eye on the Tyranny of small decisions, find a way to break the chain, and turn that significant outcome into a positive outcome.

Sharing some thoughts and a few observations along the way.

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Chris Lacey

Chris Lacey

Sharing some thoughts and a few observations along the way.

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