Stop Analysis Paralysis–Make Better Management Decisions


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Seminar attendees often ask me about time management. They’re interested in getting more done, being efficient and making better choices about their most precious resource – TIME. Among the three aforementioned attributes, the third carries the most weight. That’s right. Making better time management choices matters most.

It’s easy to make a choice when data clearly indicates a dominant path forward. But what happens when the data is fuzzy, without an absolute indication on which way to go? This is when analysis paralysis consumes mental abilities, clouds reasoning and delays a decision. An added complication is when you have numerous projects on your plate and only enough time to handle one project right now. Which project do you choose? The best remedy for getting passed analysis paralysis is a gut level, intuitive exercise whereby we ask ourselves questions and commit to a direction forward.

First things first. Regarding analysis paralysis, it is unlikely that we will ever have 100% of the required data to make a clear choice. Therefore, commit yourself to the reality that a decision will be made regardless of how much data exists.

Perhaps the best and fastest way to begin is to utilize a pass/fail ranking for each project. You could start by ranking each project from one to ten. The criteria questions for projects are as follows:

If I completed this project now would it make future work easier or unnecessary? This question is derived from Gary Keller’s book, The One Thing. If one of your projects simplifies and streamlines future operations, more than the other projects on your list, then give this project a 9 or 10. The cumulative time saved delivers tremendous ROI.

Am I excited about completing this project today? This question is derived from Greg McKeown’s book, Essentialism. Regarding your excitement factor, consider how excited you’d be to complete this today. Passion and enthusiasm matter in the course of our work. More excitement translates into more productivity and project completion. If one project excites you more than the others, then give it a 9 or 10.

If you gave a project 8 or less, then it fails skip it for now. Projects ranked 6 or a 7 are the same as a zero. Don’t waste mental energy trying to analyze or justify their merit. Focus on the project that scored closest to a 10 and get started.

Another analysis paralysis phenomenon is waiting until we have 100% of the data. Why? Because we want to be correct and minimize risk. Making choices is risky business. The reality is that you’ll probably never have 100% of the required information, so if you only have 70% of the data, then go with it. A sign of managerial growth is making decisions in the absence of having all the information.

Since I spend so much time behind the wheel of my pickup, listening to audiobooks is a favorite pastime. One of the best audiobooks I’ve heard is Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. There are a few inspiring chapters in this audiobook that I’ve listened to numerous times. Steve Jobs relied on his gut intuition about customer trends, future technology and market changes. Isaacson writes that Jobs’ intuition was more important than his intellect.

Today’s service managers must lead their operations with decisive choices. Service departments that remain in limbo are allowing the competition to dominate. Stop the analysis paralysis and get moving.

Steve Coscia
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Posted In: ACCA Now, Management

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