I spend a lot of time working with clients on developing their Agile software development processes. These clients are usually CEOs and senior executives who need to deliver better software faster, cheaper, with higher quality and lower risk. Unfortunately, risk avoidance can result in delaying critical decision-making. When this risk aversion becomes debilitating, we have Analysis Paralysis.
Effective business leaders have clear plans and take action. However, we are constantly flooded with new ideas, alternatives, and endless potential risks. It’s easy to fall into the Analysis Paralysis trap, and delay decision-making for fear of being wrong.
Many of my clients, before adopting Agile software development methods, were stuck in the waterfall methodology, where every last functional detail of the system under design must be specified before a line of code could be written. The mindset here is to minimize risk by knowing everything up front. The problem here is that by the time you’ve documented every last nuance, you’ve missed a deadline, market opportunity, or a competitor beat you to the punch.
The same logic applies to all strategic decision-making.
Here’s a few thoughts to help you avoid Analysis Paralysis and start getting results:
Ask yourself, what’s the worst possible thing that could happen?
For most of us, we’re not sending a rocket to the moon, or creating life support systems. If you make a mistake, chances are nobody will get hurt.
You ain’t gonna need it. If you’re not sure which option to choose, and you can defer the decision until it becomes critical, do so. By the time you’re forced to make a decision, you probably won’t need what you thought you did.
80% is Good Enough
Also referred to as the 80/20 rule, or the Pareto Principle, we see time and time again that the last 20% of effort isn’t worth the time. If you have 80% of the information you need in order to move, you move. Now.
Ignoring Edge Cases
These are the little “what ifs” that are at the root of Analysis Paralysis. We find that most of these little “what ifs” never actually happen.
Limit Your Options
When faced with seemingly limited choices, features, options, vendors, etc. it’s most effective to identify just a few (five or less) criteria. Don’t weigh, score, and compare every permutation. You’ll be spinning your wheels instead of making inroads.
What’s the cost of NOT making a decision? Remember, we seek success, not perfection.
I help my clients achieve tactical objectives and strategic goals – successfully.