How to Avoid Analysis Paralysis

By Dawna Jones

An organization that delays making a decision for too long is most likely stuck in the analysis stage. If you were to ask why a decision hadn’t been made, you’d hear reasons like, “There isn’t enough information,”; “Conditions are changing too quickly,”; or “We have too many options to choose from.” The result? No decision is made or no option chosen.

Companies and people find themselves in this predicament for a few reasons:

  • They overthink and overanalyze the information, the options, or the implications of the decision.

  • They operate from an underlying fear of making a mistake.

  • They are totally overwhelmed by uncertainty or internal chaos from too much change.

  • They see either no clear option or far too many options to choose from.

Not making a decision that needs to be made increases the pressure that employees feel, which in turn leads to consequences such as stress-related illness, frustration, low morale, and poor performance. Not good. In this situation, employees have lost trust in the company’s intuitive intelligence.

How do you shift out of analysis paralysis? What can you do to restore employee morale? Start by recognizing that conditions are changing constantly. To regain control and pave a path that enables you to make concrete decisions and action plans, follow these suggestions:

  • Identify decisions that are easy and ready to go, and take action. A bit of success will build momentum, and these low-stakes, low-risk decisions are not hard to implement. So take action on them.

  • Make one decision at a time. Limiting yourself to one decision at a time allows for the smoke of confusion and frustration to clear. Solve one problem and then move on to the next.

  • Get a fresh new perspective on the decisions under consideration. Ask someone from outside the unit what he or she would do. Or change your environment to see the decision from a different context.

    Research shows that more information doesn’t necessarily mean better decisions. Hesitating to make the decision because you don’t have the absolute best information is a trap. It means that you need to be perfect or right. Avoid it.

  • Trust in yourself and your colleagues. Working from a base of trust is much easier than working from a base of fear. Sure, it may require a leap of faith, but let go of hesitation and move forward. Although a bit unsettling initially, if you take gradual steps, you can help build momentum and restore confidence, and soon things will get rolling again.

Analysis isn’t bad or good. It is just one way of thinking. There are other ways of thinking, each offering a different benefit. Analysis reduces. In analytical thinking, you take the picture apart. Yet in a business environment where complexity and diversity dominate, big picture thinking is necessary. For that reason, analytical thinking may not be the best option. Flexibility is necessary.