Bakery Tech Tips: Analysis Paralysis

by Jeff Dearduff
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Do you ever find yourself needing to make a decision to move a project along, but you just can’t get there because something doesn’t look quite right?  Do you ever see that doing nothing is sometimes more problematic than doing something, even if it’s not quite right? Sometimes you just have to move forward before you are completely ready in order to prevent yourself from falling backward beyond recovery.

Analysis paralysis is typically defined as the act of over-thinking something to the point that you are mentally locked up and can’t move ahead on the process. Sometimes you have way too many options available, and sometimes you have nothing coming to you. Either way, if you let it, the “decision monster” will control your destiny, and ruin your project.

There are many ways to prevent this intellectual paralysis. The fix starts with your initial research. Some people gather way too much information upfront. Others tend to gather information that’s really not relevant. Some people get stuck trying to figure out what they need to understand and never get started.

A formatted decision-making process is just what you need. There are plenty of ways to do this, but then again you have to decide which option is best for you. The process I recommend is simple and clear.

The first step involves identifying exactly which decision needs to be made first. Sometimes this decision is simply handed to you by someone else, while other times, you need to come up with it yourself. Don’t overload this step with multiple choices. Pick one decision, center up on it and build the rest of the process around it. Clarity of the decision to be made is the driver to a successful process.

Next, lay out any choices you might have for the desired outcome of the decision. Be sure to put these options down on paper or in a decision log so your mind does not wander down wayward paths.

After you have identified your decision and the different routes to get to your decision, it’s time to research and gather any information that will feed and support your ultimate goal. If you have remained in control to this point, you will only be chasing information that is integral to the decision you want to make, and you will not get caught up in unnecessary data harvesting.

Once you have the necessary research completed, organize the info into a pro’s and con’s format. Study it briefly, then pull the trigger on the direction.

Once you have implemented the decision, then and only then should you look back to determine the quality of your decision. You can determine if you had done enough research, followed the right plan and implemented it with the right timing. Even if your decision wasn’t quite perfect, you have wheels in motion, and you can adjust your plan on the fly.

When it comes to analysis paralysis, Cardinal John Henry Newman summarized it best. He said, “A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault.”   

Decisions are not made without a systematic approach, and projects do not move forward without decisions. Find your own way to manage the decision making processs in your world and keep the ball rolling.

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