There’s a Fine Line Between Analysis and Indecision

by | Feb 9, 2017 | Behavior, Blog Series, Decision-making, Leadership, Management, Planning, Priorities, Self-awareness, Team | 0 comments

This is the next entry in the Fine Line Series, highlighting the often razor-thin margin between essential and detrimental leadership behaviors. Exhibit a particular behavior and you’re a champion; overdo it just a little bit and you’re a chump. How do you know where the line between them is, and how can you avoid crossing over it? 


Analysis is a great asset for leaders. It comes into play when you are problem-solving, planning and looking for patterns in streams of information or activity. Leaders who under-analyze will usually get themselves and their teams into trouble.

Of course, the opposite is also true: Over-analysis can also get you into trouble. Practically speaking, it keeps you stuck when you should be moving. Over-analysis leads to indecision which will certainly undermine your team’s ability to trust you.

On the surface, it would appear that the remedy for indecision is simple: Just decide. While this may solve an immediate problem, it doesn’t impact the over-analysis tendency. Because decision timing is not really the problem.

Over-Analysis keeps you stuck when you should be moving.

“And Your Point Is…?”

Over-analysis is often a combination of (at least) two things: 1) Overuse of a strength, and 2) fear.

When you do something well, you tend to depend on it more. If you’re good at analysis, what do you do when the pressure’s on? Analyze, of course.

And while no one relishes being wrong or surprised by unknowns, some of us have a particular disdain for them. In short, we are afraid. What do you do when you fear you may have missed something or you don’t want to risk being wrong? Analyze, of course.

Over-analysis is often a combination of 1) Overuse of a strength, and 2) fear.

So What?

As someone who tends toward this myself, I’ve found several things to (generally) be helpful:

  1. Rare is the time when everything can be known. IMPLICATION: It’s not about eliminating unknowns, it’s about synthesizing what is known to give you enough of a picture to move forward with confidence.
  2. Some things call for more analysis than others. IMPLICATION: Think “analysis priority” to focus on the real drivers.
  3. It’s important to realize when decisions must be made. IMPLICATION: If it’s not time to decide, wait. If it is time to decide, make the best possible decision.
  4. If you’re an “analyzer” you’ve probably already done more analysis than you realize. IMPLICATION: …And more than many others will do, so trust your gut.

If you’re an “analyzer” you’ve probably already done more analysis than you realize.

The Big Picture

Ultimately, the job of leadership is about execution, not analysis. To paraphrase General George Patton, a good plan executed with vigor today is better than a perfect plan executed one day too late.

If you want to get better as a leader, you can’t keep doing the things you’re already good at. It’s time to move beyond analyzing to executing well.

If you want to get better as a leader, you can’t keep doing the things you’re already good at.

Your Next Step

What competency are you overusing (depending on too much)?

 

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