Got ‘analysis paralysis’? 16 important considerations for making your final decision

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Business leaders must often make important decisions for their companies — decisions that don’t always have simple solutions. Even after weighing the options carefully, it’s common to go back and forth on how to proceed. However, there comes a time when a final decision must be made.

The Business Journals

If you’re struggling with “analysis paralysis,” read on for expert advice from the members of Business Journals Leadership Trust. Their insights may inspire you to finally break out of your indecision and make a choice to move your business forward.

1. The consequences of inaction
I have found it helpful to break the cycle of analysis paralysis by asking the question, “What happens if I don’t act?” I find that shifting my attention toward the risks of inaction provides me with a more action-oriented mindset. I’ve also found it beneficial to confer with those who tend to disagree with me. Amenability to counter opinions can break thought loops and enable first steps. – Diamonte Walker, Urban Redevelopment Authority

2. Carefully documented details
Analysis paralysis happens to all of us at some point in our business careers. What works best for me to break it is to set an appointment with myself. I pick my most effective time of the day (5:30 a.m.) and sit quietly for an hour as I write the problem down. If I need dialogue with members of my team, I follow up that same morning. I repeat the same routine until my project is complete. – George Befeler, The Befeler Group

3. Test results
If there are questions about the appropriate direction or path to take, don’t push all your chips to the center. Test a portion of them to see if there are effective results before changing direction completely. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

4. Your confidants’ points of view
Most people have one or two confidants in their professional lives. My gut is usually leaning one way, but I always like to present (without too much bias) my dilemma to my confidants to see how they respond. Getting a different point of view is always healthy before making a big decision. At the end of the day, set a deadline so you are not leaving yourself in limbo. – Cindy Lo, RED VELVET

5. The story arc of your process
We rarely solve a difficult problem without defining what a win looks like and force-ranking the criteria by which we will judge potential solutions. To just jump into a problem without calibrating metrics of success for the team makes the concept of “consensus” very difficult. Defining the story arc of a process makes approaching a tough problem much easier. – Joe DeSensi, Educational Directions

6. Your mission statement
I always turn to our mission statement, which includes “being the good” we see in the world. Is this business decision going to support all parts of the company’s mission statement? Is it going to bring some good into the world? If the answer to either of these questions is no, I’ll pass. – Lauren Reed, Reed Public Relations

7. The opinion of an impartial party
From a management perspective, this happens on a daily basis — for many reasons. I have always turned to nonpartisan parties to articulate the situation. Hearing myself explain the situation to others and getting input from outsiders who may have points of view I didn’t consider has always helped me. – Gene Yoo, Resecurity, Inc.

8. The ‘good enough’ decision
When it’s not a “life-or-death” situation for your company, the best strategy would be to make a “good enough” decision. Admit that you can never account for all the variables and accept that things can change. From the business development perspective, it’s more important to be flexible in your strategy than to make ideal decisions every time. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

9. The worst-case scenario
Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” If the worst-case scenario is manageable, go for it! I also “shop it around” to trusted advisors, mentors and friends when their input can help me think through risks. – Aviva Ajmera, SoLVE KC

10. Your core values
I believe all decisions are made based on values. The hard decisions are ones where two competing values dictate different decisions, like productivity versus quality. The challenge is to choose which value is truly paramount. When the overriding value is in clear view, the conflict vanishes and the right decision becomes obvious. – Amy McDougal, CLEAResources, LLC

11. The value of a calculated risk
I break analysis paralysis by reminding myself that I’m an entrepreneur, which is inherently risky. Taking the calculated risk to do something is better than doing nothing. If fear of being criticized for doing something controls you, you will accomplish nothing. Don’t overthink and underwork. Think and do the work. – Don Dodds, M16 Marketing

12. Your hunch after sleeping on it
When it is a difficult decision, I normally don’t make it right away. I sleep on it and let my unconscious cognition work out the best answer. This may not sound logical, but when you have enough experience in life and business, it is actually a very reliable way to make a decision. – Asami Cillo, StraPack Inc.

13. Leadership team buy-in
I look out over the next year and consider if we can achieve the goal based on the effort that needs to be invested. I seek buy-in from my leadership team to understand if they can commit to completing the heavy lifting in exchange for a more significant payback over time. If I don’t see the commitment, I explore if we can improve what we already have. From there, the decision becomes clear. – Joseph Wynn, Seiso, LLC

14. Those who will be affected
It helps to break the issue down and consider the group it affects or pertains to. If external operations are involved, we ask ourselves, “What choice here is best for our customers?” If it is a question of internal operations or initiatives, it’s “What’s best for our employees and partners?” You want to serve the client first and, second, support an environment where employees and partners can thrive. – Jonathan Nobil, Ensurise

15. The impact on your services
I always go back to the core services we offer as a business and our business goals. How will this decision impact our core services? Will it help us grow, strengthen our core services and reach our business goals, or not? Will we be able to remain true to our brand and brand promise? Vetting decisions against our core services, goals and brand promise is a great way to quickly gain clarity. – Brenda Bryan, The Bryan Agency

16. The potential costs of delaying
What usually happens to me is that the team is looking for more information to make the decision more obvious — or to have a better chance of being “right.” To break that hesitancy, I ask, “What do we need to do to get that information and, more importantly, how long will that take?” I can usually get folks to understand that there is a cost to a delay and that there is always risk in a decision. – Brian Bishop, Gold Heat

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