Boriana Valentinova

analysis paralysis

Analysis – Paralysis

Sounds familiar? Getting stuck with analysing too much data, text, circumstances, even people? Not getting your hands on implementing what you’ve planned and not seeing results? Feeling lost even though you have a goal and a roadmap? Total paralysis by analysis?

It would be awesome if I could record the time we spend on excessive analysis, the time we overthink a strategy and re-evaluate the risks. But, it would amount to years of total waste of time, tons of lost energy and a sea of regrets for not acting. So, let’s not! Let’s not get paralysed and stuck in a moment. Instead, two best practices can help us move forward:

  • You can’t figure it all out upfront. But, if you figure out 70%, you will be among the luckiest people.
  • Always remember your GOAL.
I’ve analysed data (without getting paralysed by doing so:-)) about the main reasons why people lose inertia after defining an action plan. I’ve got the data by observations and direct surveys during the 1000+ transformational projects I’ve done in my career. On the surface, there are always TWO main issues:
  • Resistance to change and,
  • Lack of commitment.

But, the intriguing part is what lies underneath – the root causes of paralysis by analysis. Those are 5 that come up over and over again:

  1. Lack of funding or budget,
  2. Change in customer demand,
  3. Lack of entrepreneurial spirit.
  4. Change of priorities,
  5. Stakeholders’ resistance.

Lack of funding

Being short of cash is the main reason to stop the execution of projects, growth, or launching a new business. However, lack of funding is usually a result of poor or no budget and investment planning. So, include budget estimations upfront in your business plan, scaling calculation or transformational project. Even if you plan to change your career, you need funds to invest in your education or further learning. If your success depends mainly on finding investors, get out there and sell your project until you secure it. Planning ahead will save you time and future stoppers and drawbacks.

Change in customer demand

Customers don’t change preferences overnight; even if they do, you should know your niche market. Likewise, you should be on top of trends if you are operating within your industry. One premise for success when writing your business plan is to assess your market potential. Carry out a SWOT analysis. The Opportunities and Threats are about your competition and market trends. Analyse them and be prepared for possible shifts in demand. If you don’t, you will overspend the budget you’ve planned or the investment you’ve received.

Lack of entrepreneurial spirit

I’ve got news for you. Not everyone is suited to being an entrepreneur, and not everyone is comfortable in the corporate world. Therefore, you have to pick up your partners or managers wisely. Part of the problem is that we tend to go into business with people we already know from our social circle and people we get along with well. However, they might not be the ideal suitable business partner. Hence, you will have to get out of your comfort zone and reach out further to find the right people with the right set of mind.

Change of priorities

This is one of the most frequent issues in the corporate world. Partially due to changes in top management and unclear vision statements. Suppose a CEO has the inspiring vision to make the company customer-centred, but that vision does not translate into clear goals and objectives. In that case, it can become messy further down the different organisational levels and take ages to implement or even fade out altogether. It all starts with clearly defined goals and KPIs to measure execution. Once that is specified (and the budget), the next step is to describe roles and responsibilities. The implementation will come naturally as a consequence. The organisation will have a clear roadmap, know who is responsible, and measure success.

Stakeholders resistance to change

Frequently during analysis and planning, the team gets along well. However, as execution approaches, the resistance to change becomes evident.

If you are launching a business, your family and friends will realise that you will be head over heels at work, and they will see little of you. On top of that, they become aware of how much you are putting at stake. Suddenly your great idea looks dangerous to them.

If you plan to scale, you must bring ‘law and order’ into a laissez-faire companionship. Such a change means layers of management, standardisation, a span of control, metrics, more products, more IT, customer care… That’s unsettling to non-risk-takers; they would instead retain what they value, stay small and earn less.

If you decide to transform your business or career, your stakeholders might see the risks but not the opportunities. Unfortunately, the famous saying “don’t change what works” tends to be the most used phrase in such situations. As a result, your initiative might be sabotaged, and critical personnel won’t commit to changing their teams.

Well, resistance to change is a big issue. But it is addressable with two simple tactics:
  • communication and
  • sharing success.

Start communicating as soon as the planning phase is finished and execution is on the way. Many leaders fail to understand this importance and keep information to themselves, claiming that it is confidential. Part of it probably is, but most of it isn’t. So communicate your plans. Explain how this change, venture, and transformation will benefit everyone in the long run. Even offer the opportunity to get off the train at that very moment. You don’t need stoppers past this point. You will find a way to replace them. Start executing the quick wins of your action plan, and as soon as you get results, share success with those who follow you and support you.

Too much analysis, total paralysis

Change is a complex thing. And you can’t have it all figured out ahead of implementation because there are always ‘surprises’ along the way. Especially when it comes down to evaluating risks and putting in place preventive actions, in some cases, those fail because they are based on past knowledge. If you figure out 70% of the problems you might face along a transformational journey, you will be one of the luckiest. Don’t spend time overanalysing to get the 100% under control – it won’t happen, and you will only lose direction. Instead, assume that there will be drawbacks, deviations, extra expenditures and stoppers, but you will get past them if you focus on your goal. Don’t get paralysed by the analysis.

Good luck, and let me know how you are progressing:-)