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Overcoming Analysis Paralysis

Analysis paralysis is a form of procrastination. Rather than creating a solid plan and then executing it, all the time is spent continually improving the plan so that, effectively, nothing gets done.

by F. John Reh
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Planning Is Important

Planning is probably the most often overlooked part of business today. We devote an entire section of this web site to articles and tips that will make you better at planning because it is so important. Just remember that it has its limits and its limits are determined by the risk involved.

If you are planning to send a manned spaceship to the moon, your planning needs to be pretty extensive. The risk is involved is high. However, if you are planning a bowling party team building exercise the risk is pretty low. The planning needs to be done well, but not to the extent of the moon shot.

Planning Is Not The End Goal

Planning is a task that helps you succeed in the next step. It is never the goal in itself. Many people shortcut planning because they think they don't have enough time. That is a mistake. But the worst managers are those that do too much planning because they don't know when to stop or are afraid to stop.

If you over-plan because you don't know when to stop, focus on the risk level involved. Make sure your plans are good. Make sure they are good enough. But don't worry about making them "perfect" unless they involve the potential for loss of life.

The people who really annoy me, though, are the ones who over-plan because they are afraid to stop. They know that as soon as the plan is finalized they will have to do something. They might even have to make a decision. So to prevent that, they add more details to the plan. They find another aspect that needs to be planned. Then they revise and update the plan. The planning process becomes an endless exercise in just thinking about doing something. They never actually do anything. And, if they wait long enough, if they can drag out the planning process long enough, something will happen that makes the decision for them. Any decision that is allowed to make itself will make the worst possible choice.

Get The Plan Into Action

As a manager, you have a responsibility to get things done. Don't let "analysis paralysis" keep you from getting there. Do your planning, but don't lose sight of the need to get the job done.