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Sep 04

Analysis Paralysis

Posted by: Steve Marr

Tagged in: Untagged 

Frequently I encounter individuals who get stuck analyzing everything but take no action. Most commonly these folks are either reluctant to launch a business venture or are in serious difficulty but will not take decisive action.

A person may read a lot of articles, books and seek a variety of opinions. Instead of translating the information into action, the person believes that reading more or finding additional data will reveal the correct course of action. As a result nothing happens. King Solomon understood this when he wrote, “Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.” (Ecclesiastes 11:4, NLT) Farmers know there is always a risk. A wise farmer knows when to accept that risk by planting or harvesting a crop at the right time. The farmer may not always be correct, but the farmer knows if you don’t plant the crop you’ll never get the harvest.  Or worse, you have a crop but never harvest it; and the food rots in the field.


What generally happens is that the more information a person consumes from different sources, the more information they want in an effort to resolve the situation. This is sometimes true with the readers of my business blog.  People looking for information read my articles and add that information to their overload.

Ultimately a person needs to obtain a reasonable amount of information, make good judgments about which information to use, take the situation to the Lord in prayer, and then take action. Not to act is a decision; it is a choice to do nothing.

Another kind of circumstance occurs when someone gains so much information that they’re unable to process it and start shutting down.  Again, nothing happens.

The only way to break through analysis paralysis is to develop a plan of action and implement that plan. I have written before that even an incomplete or poor plan is better than no plan. A poor plan can be adjusted while no plan brings no results. 

When I work with clients, I understand the reality that some individuals will never get beyond analysis. I had a good friend who needed a new television. He literally researched televisions for over two years looking for the perfect deal and the best option. Every time he was ready to buy he saw something else that might be slightly better.  Instead of purchasing something, he studied the new option. The irony is that the improvement he researched was so minor and irrelevant compared to the amount of time he took to find the perfect option that it was a waste of time and effort. He finally bought a TV. Of course two weeks after he bought it, he was concerned that he made the wrong choice and almost returned the unit.  Fortunately his wife vetoed the return. 

In business we need to gather a reasonable amount of information and analyze it thoroughly, but take action. Information without action is useless. When I have clients who simply refuse to take action, I back off because I know my involvement will become a waste of my time and my client’s money.

Avoid analysis paralysis.  Always move toward action.

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