Home > management > Analysis Paralysis Vs. 59 Minutes

Analysis Paralysis Vs. 59 Minutes

“If I had an hour to save the world, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute finding solutions” – Albert Einstein

If they didn’t know that Einstein said the quote above,  MBA taught and metrics-obsessed “go-go-go” textbook managers would propose that the person who did say it was a slacker who suffered from “analysis paralysis”. In the Nike age of “just do it” and a culture of “act first and think later” (in order to show immediate progress regardless of downstream consequences), not following Einstein’s sage advice often leads to massive financial or human damage when applied to big, multi-variable hairball problems.

The choice between “act first, think later” (AFTL) and “think first, act later” (TFAL) is not so simple. For small, one dimensional problems where after-the-fact mistakes can be detected quickly and readjustments can be made equally as quickly, AFTL is the best way to go. However, most managers, because they are measured on schedule and cost performance and not on quality (which is notoriously difficult to articulate and quantify), apply the AFTL approach exclusively. They behave this way regardless if the situation cries out for TFAL because that’s the way that hierarchical structured corpo orgs work. Since the long term downstream effects of crappy decisions may not be traceable back to the manager who made them, and he/she will likely be gone when the damage is discovered, everybody else loses – except the manager, of course. Leaders TFAL and managers AFTL.

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