Analysis Paralysis


Business development is all about finding business.  By nature, being in business involves risk.  Yet, so many companies are so risk phobic that they seem unable to make a decision.  One of my pet peeves is “analysis paralysis” or the process of analyzing something to death resulting in the inability to make a timely decision and missing out on a significant opportunity grow your business.

How many times have you sat in a meeting where management asked for more data and better analysis before they would make a decision? I am confused that they hire “experts” with years of experience and successful track records, yet insist on questioning statements made by these experts and demanding more “hard data” or “further analysis”. They treat decision-making as if it were a factory assembly line, relying on data and process to drive the decision.

My experience is that good decisions can be made with much less data. We need to trust our early impressions. There is no magic formula for evaluating win potential, competition, or incumbent strength. We get buried in PowerPoint presentations that try to convince us that the data supports the decision. In reality, much of it is exaggerated or inconsistent. Business is about risk, so let’s take some.

Jeff Brown and Mark Fenske, in their book, The Winner’s Brain, identify eight (8) “win factors”, and not a single one of them is “data collection and analysis”. Yet, data collection and analysis seems to be the most popular “risk mitigation” strategy. I call this “analysis paralysis”. All too often, we spend so much time collecting and analyzing data that we lack sufficient time to carry out the decision well. We then blame the lack of success on not having sufficient data and spend more time on the analysis phase during the next decision. This downward spiral can cripple a young company.

Brian Fugere, Chelsea Hardaway, and Jon Warshawsky, in Why Business People Speak Like Idiots: A Bullfighter’s Guide [click on title to read my review of this book], discuss how we have been “templatized” and rely on jargon and business doublespeak.  They suggest that we break out of this pattern and embrace the challenge by taking some risk.

My recommendation is to trust your initial impressions – you can always change that decision at a later date if conditions merit. Once the decision is made, embrace it and proceed to carry out the necessary actions. Don’t continuously second guess your decision and don’t waste your staff time on analyses and presentations. Let them get their job done and your business will grow.

Just my thoughts. What do you think? Leave me a comment below.

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Posted on November 7, 2011, in Communications, General Topics, Lessons Learned, Strategic Planning and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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