Was having an interesting conversation with founder of mid-sized Mobile App Development company.

He was venturing into Analytics space. So, obvious question arose ,”Why ? You are specializing into mobile app development, then how come you are planning into Analytics now ?,”

He replied,”Well, I have to keep lights on, pay the salaries.”

IT companies also face similar dilemma while chasing the deals. Afterall, how to really define your ‘core competency’ if you are into IT Services ? It would seem really easy to accept whatever comes and keep the lights on.

Such opportunistic approach also results in having too many ‘quick lunches’. It leads to delivery issues, leaked margins and diverts attention of  key resources from real priorities.

Why this happens ?

It is due to Ainslie-Rachlin law which states that the perceived value of a reward achieves its maximum value at the moment when the reward is available. For example, ask a kid on Monday whether he would like to have one candy on Thursday or two on Friday. He will say,” Two on Friday.” since both options are far off in future. On thursday morning, ask same question again,”Do you like to have one candy right now or two on tomorrow ?”. He will most likely pick up the one right in front of him instead of waiting till tomorrow.

Same behaviour affects us whether we are chasing IT deals or setting our work/life priorities. How many times you picked up email that popped up in your mail box rather than focussing on important task ?

In long run, we can always reason that waiting for right IT deal matching core competency is better. But, our decisions are also influenced by the perceived value of that “Quick Lunch Deal” as it gets closer.

Best way to get around this behaviour is – to always think in terms of final values. Organizations circumvent it by setting up additional reviews (either in delivery/sales) for IT Deals. Such reviews are expected to take long-term view and decide whether its good for the organization to go for ‘quick lunch’ or wait for ‘sumptuous buffet’ later.

But it is really hard when that candy bar, that deal, that email with a crisis is right in front of you.