Analysis Paralysis

Posted on May 15 2009

One of the most profound things said about Analysis Paralysis is

“The usual approach to problem-solving is to identify and remove the cause of the problem. Sometimes this is not possible because the cause cannot be found; because there are too many causes; or because the cause is human nature and cannot be removed. In such cases we are usually paralysed.”

Edward deBono

It occurs when the activity of analyzing often simple matters to excess extremes. Analysis Paralysis is an informal phrase applied to when the opportunity cost of decision analysis exceeds the benefits. This makes the simple seem overcomplex and eventually in an ending state of inaction. It prevents people from doing quickly what can and should be done quickly.

A good example is a decision by a group of ten to twenty people on a desired dining location. It is next to impossible to make the entire group happy, so a smaller group must decide and inform in order to get a simple decision made quickly. In this case, the Alternate Choice method is best employed. Unless there is a strict deadline, most people analyze a decision until there’s no time left. Similarly with procrastination. If you are allowed to procrastinate, you will. You wait until the last possible moment to do something. People who are in the analysis paralysis stage, procrastinate in making the commitment to a decision. By not making a decision, you think you have lots of choices open. Wrong! It’s an Illusion of Flexibility.

Until you commit and eliminate options, you’re stuck in the land of endless possibilities. Procrastinating only postpones the future. Enevitably you must decide, or face the consequences.

Often there is total inaction in the aftermath of the “overanalysis”. The indecisive individual lands in this situation on almost all everyday decisions. They experience a a near total inability to differentiate between the large and the small and the important and the unimportant. They cannot fit the analysis and action to the task at hand.

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