How to Overcome Analysis Paralysis

Over-Analyzing and Business Gridlock

Starting something–it can be the hardest thing to do. Just getting our feet off the ground to start a personal project or a business venture or an action inside a business can be scary. Fear of starting alone can lead to a paralyzing halt in progress of an organization. Let’s look at some reasons that people often fear starting and some idea on how to avoid stagnation.

Analysis Paralysis

Stagnation in business due to indecision and / or failure to act on a decision is called analysis paralysis. Analysis paralysis may occur for quite a few different reasons, but in the business world, there are common reasons. Fear, ego, unclarity, idea overload, disorganization, and laziness and more play into this stagnation. Let’s look at how these often play out in the business world.

What Causes Analysis Paralysis? Fear.

Why is it that–in both our personal business lives–many of us fear starting a project or making a defining decision? Some common base-fear reasons are that:

  • people fear failure,
  • people fear being blamed if a decision turns out to be wrong,
  • people fear rejection,
  • people fear change,
  • people fear stepping out of their comfort zones,
  • followers fear leading,

and more.

In the end, ideas may be thrown around while trying to solve a business issue for which the right direction is not entirely clear. Because no one wants to be looked at negatively, blamed, or even face repercussion should they make the wrong decision, often the decisions are sat on–leaving no decision made and no action taken.

What Causes Analysis Paralysis? Ego.

Ego–placing one’s appearance to other, the opinion of others, etc.–above what is most important (such as making and acting on a wise decision) can also cause stagnation.

  • People want to be right.
  • People want credit for having the answer.
  • People want recognition.

On recognition, people indeed should be recognized for their genuine and quality efforts. But let’s say you have a manager with an idea and an employee comes up with a better idea, that manager’s ego may lead him to not act on the employee’s decision because he doesn’t want the employee to get credit and recognition over him for the good idea–even if going with their idea might reflect solid leadership on the manager’s part.

What Causes Analysis Paralysis? Unclarity.

If you’ve been in the corporate world, chances are that you have sat in meetings–often meetings that have nothing to do with your job or meetings for discussing a project and who is responsible for what. Many times, well-intentioned people hold meetings that lead to people’s eyes glazing over–because the requirement of the project not clear or are not explained well.

Also, explaining to much in one go can lead to unclarity. You can lose people. If one doesn’t understand your explanation of requirement one, you may lose them during your explanation of requirements two, three, four, and so on.

Another point on unclarity: Many times, one attempting to explain an entire project will start explaining its specifics before explaining the end goal. If I explained to you out of nowhere about the proper type and gauge of wiring to use for the canisters, you would have no idea what I mean because these are specifics. But if I told you that we are rewiring the recessed lighting in a customer’s business on the east and west wings, that gives you the end goal.

In short, if people don’t know the goal, the chances are that they will put off proceeding.

What Causes Analysis Paralysis? Idea Overload.

Then there are those meetings where everybody’s talking. While attempting to solve an issue, so many ideas are flying around the conference table that no one knows what is actually going to be done. Well-intentioned staff talk over each other and override each other’s ideas, sparking resentment and jealously.

A fully-open discussion is a great idea, but progress can be lost if the focus is not pulled back on to the end goal and ideas evaluated with a humble and level head.

What Causes Analysis Paralysis? Disorganization.

In the above scenario, a lack of ability of staff and management to work with people can lead to disorganized meetings, disorganized structure, and more. This leads to frustration, lack of settlement on a decision, and ultimately gridlock.

What Causes Analysis Paralysis? Laziness.

And sometimes you just have a person in charge who might be loud on their verbal commitment, but rarely acts on what they promised. This can, of course, be due them being overloaded with work, but it is often due to laziness.

In Review

If you notice, none of these are business issues. Though business is affected by these issues, they are people issues. They are psychological issues. They are personal issues.

Because of the above fears and characteristics, an organization may stagnate. Often, ideas and projects and intentions are discussed, they are analyzed, they are planned, and they are even put in writing. But so many factors can result in no decision being made and no action being taken.

Avoiding Analysis Paralysis

Be real about the personal fears and issues we all have. Make effort to genuinely get to know people that you work with and teach and work with them in a way appropriate for how they are wired. Create an open environment for people to express what they really think–even If it’s rough. Forget ego and hash things out toward a goal. Be humble when correcting bad direction and appreciate the good intentions and good ideas.