Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Analysis Paralysis

I recently had a spirited conversation with a client about what I felt was the need to get a marketing initiative on the ground and running already, after much time and deliberation.
After all, I figured, this particular initiative was somewhat time-sensitive in order to reach a selected market so that the market's decisions to purchase could be made in a, what else, timely manner.

My client, however, had not been convinced that preceding methods of conveying the information were the best ones to implement.

To paraphrase...Tempus fugit, I said.

The distribution method was not optimally configured, the client countered.

And...the initiative rolls slowly toward that green light. Yet perhaps continuing analysis remains the appropriate course of "action" for now, and the foreseeable future.

The question I ask, however, is how long before that future is no longer foreseeable?

The popular term for this apparent torpor is "Analysis Paralysis."

Welcome to the mid-year edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

* From Wikepedia:

"The term 'analysis paralysis' or 'paralysis of analysis' refers to over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation, so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome. A decision can be treated as over-complicated, with too many detailed options, so that a choice is never made, rather than try something and change if a major problem arises. A person might be seeking the optimal or 'perfect' solution upfront, and fear making any decision which could lead to erroneous results, when on the way to a better solution.

"In Aesop's The Fox and the Cat, the fox has 'hundreds of ways of escaping' while the cat has 'only one.' When they hear the hounds approaching, the cat scampers up a tree while the 'the fox in his confusion is caught up by the hounds.' The fable ends with the moral, 'Better one safe way than a hundred on which you cannot reckon.'"

"Peter P.," in his online blog, Internet Marketing Tools, weighs in on this subject:

"The opportunity costs of analysis exceed simply choosing a path, even if it may not be the best one, and acting on it now.

"We all get it. The bombardment of too much information, which you think would be nice in a world that totes knowledge as power. I’m here to tell you that’s utter and complete (B.S.).

You need to do some analysis and information gathering to make informed decisions, sure, but when you become obsessed with it…gathering info for info gathering’s sake…it becomes detrimental."

* Lori Watson Redding, in her blog, How To Achieve Your Network Marketing Success, asks:

"What happened to spontaneity and impetuousness? What happened to not worrying and taking a chance? Geesh. Did I get old or did I just grow up.

"Here’s what I know to be true:

"Sometimes it’s a really good thing to be cautious. We sometimes make better decisions when they are processed with deep-rooted perception after we have pursued an avenue wrought with months of insight and forethought.

"But oft-times we over-think things to death. Or, if I was to quote the movie, The Princess Bride, “not to the death, but to the pain.“ We scrutinize the obvious which causes personal agony. Instead of making a decision and RUNNING with it, we second guess ourselves, procrastinate and cause more aggravation and FAILURE because we don’t trust our inner voice."

* Chris Garrett, in his virtual column on "New Media" opines:

"Analysis Paralysis often comes from learned behavior over several years. Either it has proven beneficial, so you do a little more thinking and planning each time, or not enough planning has caused problems so each occasion you get a little more cautious.

"Planning is good. Failure to plan is planning to fail. But too much can be as crippling as not enough.

"It never fails to surprise me how different the world seems when my analysis faces reality. We all get some things right while other things seem to come from outer-space and no amount of thinking would have predicted it.

"Thinking on your feet is often as important as any amount of analysis.

Set a deadline and stick to it. Don’t be tempted to put it so far in the future we will all be flying around with personal jet packs.

"Partner with or get the second opinion of someone a little more reckless – my go-to hot-head is Nick. I’m starting to think my analysis paralysis has rubbed off on him though, heh.

"Get used to making decisions, it gets easier with practice. Start with small decisions ('caramel macchiato' vs 'double-shot-latte') and work up to the (big ones).

"Do one of the tasks on your list, then another. Easy or hard, doesn’t matter. Gain some momentum.

"Finally, Stop thinking about it and start doing something."

As for yours truly, however, in respectful deference to my aforementioned client, the bottom line may also be the bottom line.

After all, it's their business, their money, their neck on the line.

So...what's the answer? I personally tend to operate my business in a "shoot first, ask questions later" fashion. Is that the "better" way?

Candidly, I'm not sure.

What do you think? If this subject inspires sufficient response, I'll post your comments in next month's Not Your Usual Marketing Tips.

Joel Kweskin
704.846.4835 office
704.575.8850 mobile
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