Three Steps to Avoid the Fatal “Goldilocks Decision Making Trap”


As a keynote speaker, I often share the classic children’s fairytale, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”, as an analogy for a fatal decision-making trap business leaders fall into — one of extremes.  This porridge is too hot, this one is too cold, this one is just right.  Goldilocks then struggles deciding between three chairs, three beds, and who knows what else.

In other words, Goldilocks suffered from the decision making trap of extremes:  Having too many options to choose from, or not enough.  Taking too long to make a decision (analysis paralysis), or not taking enough time (extinct by instinct).  Having too many chefs in the kitchen or not enough. 

In the business world, if you and your leadership team suffer from “The Goldilocks Trap”, it can be absolutely fatal.  Take for example consumer electronic pioneer RCA.  Created in 1919 as Radio Corporation of America, RCA flourished as one of the most innovative and successful companies of the 20th century.  However RCA senior leadership lost its way, suffered from extremes in their decision making process, and over-diversified away from its core consumer electronics business.  In 1965 they acquired Random House publishing.  In 1967, they purchased rental car company Hertz.  And in 1970 RCA also bought frozen food maker Banquet.  What do frozen foods, rental cars, and publishing have in common with consumer electronics — not much!  By 1986, RCA was sold to GE.  Soon, GE liquidated most of RCA’s assets, and RCA now exists as a trademark only.


One easy business transformation solution to help you and your team get out of the “The Goldilocks Trap”, or avoid it all together, is the “3 x 15 Rule”.  The “3 x 15 Rule” works like this:

Step 1:  Do whatever you need to do to limit your potential FINAL solutions to three and only three.  You and your team can brainstorm more than three solutions to any potential problem, however, be sure to narrow them down to your “top three”.

Step 2:  Set a 15-minute decision making timer.  Often you and your highly motivated team won’t need anywhere near 15-minutes to make the best decision.  And of course, sometimes you’ll need more than 15-minutes for bigger decisions.  DO NOT use the timer on your smartphone.  Buy an old-school egg-timer to avoid e-Distractions from your smartphone. 

Step 3:  Immediately following your decision, take 45-minutes to get into relevant action around your final decision (3 x 15 = 45).  Go meet face-to-face with your team.  Make a phone call to move your decision forward.  Schedule a visit with that new client/customer/colleague.  Keep that decision-making momentum moving forward!


What decision-making extreme to you struggle with?  Are you too slow to make some decisions?  Too quick to make others?   Please visit my website then check out my new bestselling book that teaches you how to make better decisions, get into relevant action, and reach a new level of peak performance in business and life with balance — not burnout: .