Do you want famine or feast?

Do you want famine or feast?

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Imagine you’re ravenous — and someone brings you plates of your two favourite dishes. You like them equally and both are the same distance away on the table. Which do you choose — or is there a very real risk you’ll starve because you just can’t make up your mind?

This may seem like a bizarre scenario. But there’s a business parallel that I’ll explore in a moment.

As for the dilemma itself, it’s one that philosophers have been chewing over since the 14th century. The quandary was dubbed “Buridan’s ass” which — let us assure you — has more to do with donkeys than derrières.

The scene goes like this … a donkey is equally hungry and thirsty but finds itself precisely midway between a stack of hay and a bucket of water. The paradox suggests the animal will die of hunger and thirst because it cannot make a rational decision to choose one over the other.

 

So what’s the business message?

At this point, we need to think about another animal … the elephant in the room.

We’re talking about a recent event, not seen in generations. A head-to-head contest, with a narrow victory. Something that left a country shocked and divided, raising all sorts of questions. As we’re sure you realise, we’re talking about the BBC losing out to Channel 4 over the signing of the Great British Bake-Off …

Seriously though, we do mean Brexit. For UK businesses, the country’s decision to leave the EU creates a major dilemma.

 

Put simply, companies face two options after the referendum:

1) Should we invest, seeing Brexit as an opportunity?

2) Or, should we batten down the hatches, make cutbacks and anticipate a downturn?

 

Note: this post has been published as an article on Real Business, where you can find the full version.

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