Promising Practices Promising PracticesPromising Practices
A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

How to Walk Away

ARCHIVES
Image via igor.stevanovic/Shutterstock.com

Most of us know what it's like to stay in a job or a relationship after it's stopped being satisfying, or to take on a project that's too big and be reluctant to admit it. CEOs have been known to allocate manpower and money to projects long after it's become clear that they are obviously failing. Think of JP Morgan's "London Whale" Bruno Iksil, who doubled down on a losing bet rather than admit his losses and ultimately cost the bank over six billion dollars. Similarly there was John Edwards, who couldn't bring himself to end his losing bid for the Presidency even after his mistress became pregnant. 

The costs to a person who does not know when to quit can be enormous. In economics it's known as sunk cost fallacy, though the costs are more than financial. While we recognize the fallacy almost immediately in others, it's harder to see in ourselves. Why?

There are several powerful, largely unconscious psychological forces at work. We may throw good money after bad or waste time in a dead-end relationship because we haven't come up with an alternative; or because we don't want to admit to our friends and family, or to ourselves, that we were wrong. But the most likely culprit is this innate, overwhelming aversion to sunk costs.

Read more at The Atlantic.

Image via igor.stevanovic/Shutterstock.com

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by eSignLive by VASCO

    Mobile E-Signatures for Government

    Learn 5 key trends that accelerate government demand for mobile signing.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Management Concepts

    SPONSORED: Successful Change Management Practices in the Public Sector

    How governmental agencies implement organizational change management.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Kronos

    Solving the Workforce Compliance Challenge

    Download this eBook to learn how data and automation can help state and local agencies.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.