6 years, 10 months ago

‘Precrastinators’, ‘Cowboys’, Procrastinators and business outcomes

Link: http://theknowledgeeconomy.anorien.com/2014/07/02/precrastinators-cowboys-procrastinators-and-business-outcomes/

Precrastination’ is a recently coined word, specifically used to describe behaviour which is characterised by impatiently undertaking tasks, frequently despite having inadequate information and with careless disregard of the risks.


  • Exhibit the need for applying speed over rigour,
  • May employ greater trust in gut-feelings over requisite information,
  • Fail to assess risks or ramifications,
  • Often desire to be viewed as confident decision makers,
  • Demonstrate a reluctance to work collaboratively as this may be perceived as counter-intuitive,
  • May be ego-driven, rather than applying a common sense approach to their work,
  • Rapid delivery causes an ‘addictive’ adrenalin rush that creates misguided confidence.

The term ‘Cowboy’ within a business setting is often applied to people who are reckless in their actions. A ‘cowboy’ is a type of ‘precrastinator’ who does apply some thought to what they are doing, but generally insufficient to achieve reliably good business outcomes.


  • Take ill-conceived risks, in order to get the job done faster,
  • Avoid all requisite process rigour,
  • Apply shortcuts where possible.

Whilst it may be desirable to ‘get the job done now’ the consequences of doing so must be properly considered. Doing it now, with no consideration of consequences has the hallmarks of the precrastinator. With some additional thought, the ‘cowboy’ comes into their own. Prepared to cut corners and take questionable risks they can achieve good outcomes – but at what cost?

Conversely, procrastination results in tasks, activities or decisions being needlessly delayed or postponed, often culminating in a stress-induced forced committment due to reaching or passing the deadline.


  • Are usually severely risk averse,
  • Exhibit anxiety driven caution,
  • May delay significant tasks for less important ones,
  • Can become bogged down by minutiae,
  • May compulsively tweak their work delaying action,
  • Experience insecurity with regard to decision making.

Responsibility entails an inherent capacity for competent decision-making ability. Procrastinators may undertake often unwarranted additional research, to assuage their insecurity. They may seek second/third opinions, delegate or merely postpone, incurring further anxiety. This perceived inaction is in reality, an action, being a choice to avoid taking action.

The procrastinator may frequently utilise personally validated excuses to justify indecision, thereby negating perceived responsibility: “I have to wait until the start of the new financial year” or “I Will submit the report when my boss returns from leave” etc.

Alternatively a ‘doing it right’ culture, when applied to the extreme, supports the attitude of the procrastinator. ‘Analysis Paralysis’ frequently occurs when the procrastinator feels a compulsion to know absolutely everything before making a decision. Their ability to be exposed to risk is severely compromised. The procrastinator is risk averse.

The news media is full of evidence where pre or procrastination has resulted in significant negative impacts, unfortunately sometimes resulting in tragic consequences. Poor choices, whether made in haste, without sufficient consideration, or conversely, deliberated for an unnecessarily prolonged period do not make good business sense.

Such errors of judgement can occur individually and extend up to large businesses and at government level. No-one is immune to being either responsible or from suffering the consequences of poorly executed decisions. The ramifications of either hasty and inadequately evaluated or extensively delayed or postponed decisions are the most common causes of business failure.

Balance is what is required to build a successful business.

Individuals exhibiting either extreme or risky behaviour in decision making or avoiding all decisions when possible will reside in many businesses. If these negative behaviours are allowed to persist, they can cause significant adverse business outcomes. Whilst a hastily made poor decision may quickly be regretted, the often less apparent impact of inaction can result in a significant loss of business potential, leading to unrealised opportunities and impaired competitive ability.

Business can mitigate this by having:

  • Mandated decision making processes and process improvement,
  • Mandated governance,
  • Managed performance metrics and
  • Clearly defined accountabilities and consequences for non-compliance.