I want to resign! — Decision Puzzle 04

Emre Soyer
2 min readDec 30, 2021

You are a product designer. You developed goods for a plastics factory for 10 years: irrigation systems, window frames etc. Some time ago you learned about a new coating technology that provides a strong protection against corrosion and allows the use of cheaper raw materials.

You immediately envisioned a colorful bathroom with affordable high-quality accessories.

You designed a set, from towel hangers to soap holders. Then you promptly quit your job, found partners to establish a company, brought a team together, began production, and built an international sales network.

Your catalogue soon grew with different designs, first drafted by you, and then improved on by your technicians.

Your company started to take part in international exhibitions. Your exports grew year by year, but your domestic sales were lingering. You discussed this issue with your domestic sales manager and tried to find a solution by changing strategies, like payment terms, color choices etc. None of them improved the picture. You even started questioning the abilities of your sales manager, but your partners said that he is dependable and can’t be easily replaced.

In one sales meeting, your domestic sales manager brought in a sample product by one of your competitors. “Why don’t we produce something similar to that?” he asked, “they are selling these like peanuts.” You said: “Over my dead body. Such a terrible design will never leave our production facilities.”

A similar dialogue occurred every 2 months for the next 6 months.

Then one day, your domestic sales manager came into your office and declared that he wants to quit. You assumed that the mediocre results had triggered this decision. You asked him about his reason. He said: “If you want my honest answer: It’s you! You don’t allow me to serve the market according to the wishes of the consumers. For the last 6 months you refused to let us produce products that people want to buy. You think that you know what they need. Unfortunately, what you think you know and what they want are not the same. I’m leaving if you are not ready to change your decision here and now.”

An easy way out from the situation would be to let him go and hire someone else who will try to sell your current product range more successfully. Alternatively, you can give in to his demand, risk being inconsistent with your principles and prior strategy, and start producing similar products to your competitors’.

What would be a wise decision?

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Emre Soyer

behavioral scientist, co-author of The Myth of Experience