The paralysis of analysis

A typical pattern in most organizations that are starting out is that they have a lot of employees that are driven and energetic and who urgently take big decisions to move the organization from where it is currently (a start-up) to a much stronger organization.

The challenge with this pattern is that it breaks down at some point. As these organizations become successful they become complacent and that fire begins to whittle down until it is totally extinguished.

Craig Groeschel once said “Success kills pride, pride kills urgency and that is why people say nothing fails like success”

The idea here is not to just be urgent and to take decisions without thinking it through. No, the goal is to not be caught in the state of constantly analysing and reanalysing every possible scenario but to get up and go ahead with your idea.

The decision to step out with your idea is often not an easy one. Our design ideas are usually a reflection of who we are and there is that fear that your idea will be rejected or someone will poke so many holes in it and totally discourage you. So, we end up thinking about every scenario and digging into every detail – thus, we find ourselves stuck in the paralysis of analysis. The danger in this is not the analysis itself, it is the fact that you become paralyzed while doing this and therefore cannot react to an urgent situation or need that requires your attention.

Jeff Boss, a contributor on Forbes has outlined five points to help us urgently react and get rid of this paralysis;

  1. Set a “drop dead” date: Set a deadline that you should not exceed. Remember that other people (units and departments even customers) are most likely expecting your feedback. Preferably set a date before your actual deadline.
  2. Get a sanity check: Share your ideas with others. Not everyone, but people you trust and respect. Basically, bounce your ideas off them and get their feedback. No, do not setup long meetings (everybody’s time is precious). A casual conversation about your ideas will suffice. Now, you may ask, how does this help me make a decision faster? This exercise ensures that you get a fresh pair of eyes to look at those ideas and flag areas of issues hopefully long before you do.
  3. Curb your curiosity: Curiosity is the mother of invention but it also killed the cat. Know when to put on those breaks and slow down. It is unlikely that you will solve all of life’s problems tonight.
  4. Recognize that the moons will never align: According to ScienceFocus, the eight major planets of the Solar System can never come into perfect alignment. The last time they appeared even in the same part of the sky was over 1,000 years ago, in the year AD 949, and they won’t manage it again until 6 May 2492. He who watches the wind [waiting for all conditions to be perfect] will not sow [seed] – Ecclesiastes 11:4. In other words, don’t fret if your ideas or decision doesn’t feel quite complete. You can always improve on it later.
  5. Stair step your decisions: This basically involves breaking a major decision into smaller, easier to tackle ones. Its the little decisions that lead up to the main one.

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