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8 Examples of Analysis Paralysis

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Analysis paralysis is overthinking that is inefficient. This is an analogy that suggests that overanalysis of strategy, decisions, tactics, plans and designs can resemble a paralysis whereby an organization or individual ceases to take action. The following are illustrative examples.

1. Ambiguity

Many individuals and organizations have trouble dealing with ambiguity such that they find it difficult to act in an environment of uncertainty. For example, a product development group that finds it difficult to design a new product before they know what a large competitor is planning.

2. Consensus

The process of consensus building can consume a lot of resources and time without adding much value. For example, a creative director who needs to get five different business units to agree to a website design may consume months on this process with compromises only making the site less consistent and usable.

3. Resistance to Change

Situations where members of a team would like to derail an initiative such that their contributions are not helpful but are designed to complicate and delay. For example, an administrator who suggests that you need a preliminary committee to make recommendations for the establishment of a planning committee.

4. Abstraction

An individual or team that is stuck in abstract ideas that are too far detached from the realities at hand. For example, a product development team who knows a feature will be popular with customers but spends months trying to decide if it will add to the "holistic customer experience."

5. Creating Problems

Considering highly theoretical problems that don't yet exist. For example, an urban planning committee that worries that improving a park might lead to "gentrification" because a nice park might raise property values.

6. Complexity

Considering too many variables in a decision. For example, an environmentalist who considers extremely remote and unlikely impacts of a clean energy project that has large benefits to ecosystems as compared to the practical alternatives.

7. Big Thinking

Inventing big solutions to small problems. For example, an IT team that feel they need to buy a multi-million dollar product and integrate it with 50 systems to accomplish a simple task such as managing sales contacts.

8. Fear of Failure

Avoiding decisions out of a desire to avoid failure. It is often better to try, fail a little and improve than to spend too much time looking for a "can't fail" strategy.

Analysis Paralysis vs Last Responsible Moment

Last responsible moment is a strategy that suggests decisions need not be made in advance. By leaving decisions and work to the last possible moment, you may be more motivated to resolve things quickly. Additionally, things change and a decision that is made as late as possible benefits from more information.

Analysis Paralysis vs Fail Often

Fail often is the process of taking small brave steps that are designed to fail quickly and cheaply if at all. Designing strategies in this way allows you to make decisions quickly without tragic outcomes. For example, a student who is spending too much time and effort trying to decide their major might take a few courses in different areas to test the waters.
Overview: Analysis Paralysis
An overly analytical decision process that results in wasted time, inaction and/or poor quality decisions.
Related Concepts

Decision Making

This is the complete list of articles we have written about decision making.
A/B Testing
Abilene Paradox
Abstract Concept
Analysis Paralysis
Analytic Reasoning
Benefit Of Doubt
Boil The Frog
Choice Architecture
Cold Logic
Collective Intelligence
Convergent Thinking
Critical Thinking
Decision Analysis
Decision Authority
Decision Balance
Decision Costs
Decision Fatigue
Decision Framing
Decision Mapping
Decision Modelling
Decision Quality
Decision Rationale
Decision Support
Decision Tree
Devil's Advocate
Disagree And Commit
Divergent Thinking
Emotional Intelligence
Failure Of Imagination
Group Decisions
Keep It Simple
Maximax Criterion
Minimax Criterion
Motivated Reasoning
Non Decision
Normative Model
Opportunity Cost
Paradox Of Choice
Pareto Analysis
Predictive Analytics
Preserving Ambiguity
Reverse Brainstorming
Sanity Check
Serious Game
Strategic Dominance
Thought Experiment
Visual Analytics
Visual Thinking
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