Lets’s wait and see…

Happy New Year. Sorry this is a grim (stern?) start to the year but this idea bears repeating

“Let’s wait and see…”

..actually, let’s not.

Let’s do something about [fill in the risk here] right now.

The sooner we start to act, the earlier we’ll understand the situation, the faster we’ll be able to mobilize resources, and we’ll start limiting the damage that will only worsen with time.

This speed is essential when there’s a lagging indicator. By the time the metrics show things are getting worse, it’s already bad.

But now, all of the benefits of early intervention are lost, and it’s too easy to get overwhelmed.

Oh, and now you need to explain why you did nothing when you had the chance to act early.

So when you smell smoke, it means that something’s already on fire. Don’t wait to see the flames ‘just to be sure’.

When there are multiple reports of bribery and people taking kickbacks, don’t wait to see if they’re related – you already have an FCPA violation.

Or, when you see this graph, don’t say you’ll think about taking additional measures ‘if things get worse.’ (See footnotes.)

UK COVID cases through December 2020 – Sourced corinavirus.data.uk.gov via Independent Sage

I can’t think of an event when an early, dynamic response caused any damage or couldn’t be undone with minimum fuss.

On the other hand, I can think of dozens of times where warnings were ignored, people ‘waited to see how it turned out‘, and it went very badly.

People died. Coastlines were polluted. Companies collapsed. Savings were lost.

So, please, act as early and as decisively as possible. And demand the same of your teams, managers, and executives.

Waiting to see just isn’t worth it.


At the time of writing (Jan 04, 2021, 17:00GMT) Scotland has just gone into an extended lockdown and the Prime Minister is expected to make a statement this evening. There is expectation that he will announce additional measures which may be in effect by the time you see this. However, the indications that the situation was getting significantly worse were there in early December. Moreover, apparent efficacy of the November lockdown was illustrated in the data so any decision concerning additional measures could, and in my opinion should have been made in mid-December.

Photo by Bud Helisson on Unsplash

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