Have you ever noticed people, employers, and governments seem to procrastinate instead of act? For instance, Iran is still far away from coming to an agreement about nuclear weapons, but they keep entering into negotiations. North Korea has, for sixty years, threatened to attack, continues to make a bit of noise, but still is attempting to negotiate for a unified Korea. Saddam Hussein stalled and procrastinated for 10 years before something was done about it.
Regardless of what you think about the three situations, one thing is clear. They all employed stalling measures so they could find a way to get what they wanted. For Iran, it is to hurry up and come up with a nuclear weapon. For North Korea, it makes the noise so the South Koreans don’t forget about the North and to promote fear in the south. For Saddam, it was about gaining control of a larger region.
What do all of these things have in common? What appears to be procrastination may well be strategic stalling. Stalling buys time. Time is an asset everyone wants on his side. Both Iran and North Korea think time is on their side. They both believe no one is going to attack them. No one will, as long as they don’t attack anyone else. But, the stalling provides time to gather resources, make plans, and prepare for the aftermath of what ever evil deed they plan.
The normal person would not think stalling strategies would not be used much outside the international political arena. They would be wrong. Employers use it to avoid paying higher wages and benefits or to decrease number of employees and assets. A case in point: Some years ago Starbucks announced that due to the recession and serious economic losses they were closing some of its stores and laying off those employees. They did this at the same time they opened new stores and hired new employees in other cities.
They waited for the cover of a recession to implement their plan. No one questioned them about it. Heck, many other companies were engaging in this same practice. Simply put, in our opinion, Starbuck’s used the stalling strategy to wait for a time to close less profitable stores. Large companies which lay off employees take a hit in the public eye. If their only motive is to make more money when the company as a whole is doing fine, that doesn’t sit well. The fact that they opened a new store just down the road immediately after closing the other stores speaks volumes.
Everyday people employ the stalling strategy too. You see it in every day interpersonal relationships. The boyfriend who procrastinates about getting married. The woman who stalls getting pregnant. The high school student who goes to school but does not do his work, thereby stalling his graduation.