Do you struggle to get things done because you overthink your work? Try these three tips to overcome “analysis paralysis.”
Many times I’ve heard it said that perfect is the enemy of done. A big barrier to executing initiatives is analysis paralysis. The team gets bogged down on proving their case is 100% accurate and risk-free before they act. That slows down execution and leads to missed opportunities. By understanding the risks you face and making appropriate trade-offs between timeliness and accuracy effects, you can speed up execution and break through analysis paralysis.
One tip for breaking free from analysis paralysis that I like to offer is to be clear up front about what analysis is required versus what analysis is interesting. If you know the analysis is a must-do, obviously get it done. If it’s just interesting but it won’t change the answer, you shouldn’t be doing that analysis.
Next, have a clear hypothesis and make a decision once you’ve proven it. If you disprove it, go back with a different idea. Recognize decisions aren’t irrevocable. You can change your mind! If you make a decision today and find out later on that your analysis was incorrect, or you get some new information that says the world has changed, go back and change the decision that you made in the first place. Conduct a risk assessment. Note the size and the chances of that risk occurring. Make a deliberate call to accept or not accept that risk.
Last, calculate the cost of waiting. I had a great boss at one point, and I went to him one day with my recommendation that we roll out a new model. And he said “Okay, when are we going to turn this on and what’s it worth?” I said, “Well, it’s worth about 2 million dollars a year in incremental income and I was thinking we would turn it on next week.” And he said, “Well, why are we going to wait a week?” I said, “Well, I just want to do a couple more analyses and really button it up.” He turned to me and he said, “Well, when you come back to me, you better make sure your business case has an extra hundred thousand dollars in it.” And I said, “What are talking about?!” He said, “Mike, if you’re going to wait an extra week, that’s money I would’ve gotten. And over time, that adds up to about a hundred thousand dollars. So just make sure your business case is bigger. Or you can roll it out tomorrow and you don’t owe me that money.” He taught me the cost of waiting. Run that calculation. It can move your team to act much more quickly.
In my course on getting your ideas approved, I cover a lot more detail on a hypothesis-based approach to breaking through analysis paralysis. And in my decision-making course, I offer some additional tips on handling the balance between risk and ambiguity. When you’re looking to accelerate the pace of your strategy execution, just realize that when people say they want to do more analysis and want to get rid of more of the risk, they’re really just slowing your plan down. The faster you can get through that paralysis stage, the more effectively you’re going to drive execution of your strategy.
Want to learn more about creating a culture of strategy execution? How about taking an entire course on it? Go directly to the course and start learning how to create a culture of strategy execution. The entire course is available at LinkedIn Learning. Enjoy!
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