the sunk cost dilemma

The Sunk Cost Dilemma

Last week I called “customer service” to resolve an a billing error. It should have been a very simple fix. I thought I’d be on the phone for no more than 10 minutes. An hour later and 4people, the issue was resolved, kind of. I was mad I wasted an hour of time on such a small issue. Once I was on the phone, I didn’t want to hang up as I was transferred from person to person. I had already invested a lot of time. Surely, the issue would be resolved in a few minutes. It was the classic sunk cost dilemma.

In business, we keep investing in products, services, capital, facilities, etc. because we think it will just take a little more time and money to achieve the results we want. But sometimes continued investment is not worth it. There comes a point when you are just throwing good money after bad. That is when you need to recognize the costs are sunk and should not be the reason to continue investing.

Do you have a method for evaluating whether continued investment is warranted? How do you get out of the sunk cost dilemma?

Posted in Customers, Financial Management, Leadership, Risk Management, Strategy.

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