How to Defy Analysis Paralysis


On Monday I wrote about the Infinite Loop to Nowhere – otherwise known as analysis paralysis.  Today let’s talk about the flipside – or how to avoid getting wrapped around the axle by our need to analyze

Business School taught us all that analysis was the foundation of any business. I’m not arguing with that position.

I am suggesting that  too much analysis becomes Gravity – especially today, when our markets are accelerating.

The more dynamic our markets, the more dynamic we must be to create success. We can’t spend weeks and months analyzing. It’s counter-productive. Think about it:

  • We go out and research the data and numbers. That takes a few weeks or more.
  • We also gather information from our markets.  That can take week or months.
  • We bring all that information back and then we analyze it –  for who knows how long.

Not exactly speedy, now is it? By the time we complete the analysis – our market has shifted and we’re operating on Gravity-based information.

It’s not just the timing that makes all that analysis a drag.

The process of analysis is also heavy on our success. Why?

We analyze all that quickly aging data with our own past-their-prime beliefs – called knowns. Our beliefs filter all our thinking. That’s not exactly an objective approach, and it makes it hard to get an objective perspective with all those past beliefs defining our future. Especially when they are impacting data that’s already getting old.

And then – to make matters worse, we get stuck in the Infinite Loop to Nowhere.   That is not a plan for success.

So how do we avoid this paralysis, yet still gather information and act thoughtfully?

  •  Shift that process belief. the first thing to do is ditch the idea that there is a fixed process for moving forward. For example, we have an order of analysis as described above, then only when analysis completes can we move forward. That’s old school, everything in its order thinking.  It won’t work in today’s accelerating world.
  •  Be iterative instead of absolute.  Part of the old school dynamic is a set of thinking that says we create a plan, then follow it. We took years getting to that 3 or 5 year planning focus.  In today’s world it’s the kiss of death.  So is the idea that we should invest in big blocks of analysis time – and then create the plan – and then move forward.  Absolutes are a big form of Gravity.  Instead – think about how you can make a decision, test it by moving forward, review the results and then tune.  We shifted from absolute product development approaches to iterative, ongoing product advancements. We need to make the same shift when it comes to every process in our business – especially analysis vs forward progress.
  •  Think in steps.  Let’s say we have a huge industry, market or product opportunity to analyze. Who says we have to do all the analysis, agree to a result (usually a firm stance) and then move forward.  Gravity alert!  Instead -think of the analysis as a series of steps or phases that can be accomplished and then moved forward for testing and tuning. That gets us moving forward while we continue to analyse another step – and also review and tune the forward motion.

Above all -it’s time to realize that no amount of analysis will guarantee a sure thing. There are no sure things in today’s world.  Sitting in our offices analyzing and reviewing data and abstract opinions from supposed experts takes time away from being in the market, watching and learning.  Our real results live in the market, not in that spreadsheet from hell:)

How do you keep moving forward when you hit the analysis loop?


Photo courtesy of Mark Kelley.

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