Sunk Cost Fallacy

Stop reading if you’ve ever been here:

You are reading a book (not mine, obviously, and YES! That was a shameless plug), you are about half-way through and just not getting into it.  But you keep reading anyway.  Why?  Because you’ve already invested this much time, or money since you bought the book.  By the way, mine is cheap. (BOOM!  Another shameless plug!)  Never mind that the time and money has already been spent and you won’t get it back.  That doesn’t factor as much as the time and effort you have already put in.  Sure, the book, or movie, or podcast, or blog or whatever sucks, but you can’t just shelve it.  You’ve invested too much time in it.  There is a term for this – it is called Sunk Cost Fallacy.

I hear you asking: “OK, Mr. Big Brain, what does that have to do with HR?”  Well, I am so glad you asked…  This applies to more than just stuff.  It has to do with time and money invested in people as well.  Have you ever had someone on your team that wasn’t getting it?  Have you known it is time, but been hesitant because of the time you have already put into developing them and know you will just have to do that again?  Have you had hesitation because you look at the money you have put into them and feel like starting over would just waste that money?

Well, you are right.  That time and money is gone.  Sorry ’bout that.  But dragging it out ain’t getting that money back.  It is Sunk.  It is a, wait for it… 

Sunk Cost.  

But it becomes a Fallacy when you continue perpetuating the expense – in time and money – because you don’t want to admit that you have a dud on your hands and need to move forward.  Every penny and minute you spend in this situation is a penny and minute that can be utilized towards developing an asset that will bring true value to you and your organization.

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