Why is it that there never seems to be enough information to make an informed decision? That no matter how much you research a topic, you never seem to get to the definitive right answer? That every decision is shrouded in the fog of war, forcing you to step into the unknown?
It’s tempting not to make a decision, to continue to research and research until you can be 100% without a doubt, absolutely, positively certain that THIS not that is the right decision. But it’s impossible to know for absolute certainty that you have all the information, that your view on the subject is perfect.
So how do you make a decision without going into paralysis by analysis?
How to Avoid Paralysis by Analysis and Learn to Trust Your Gut
#1: Find Analysis Shortcuts – Ask a crowd (or the one research fanatic who researches and researches a topic until there is nothing left to discover). Crowdsourcing your research cuts down decision-making time on the front end.
Ask our ‘sources’ to share why they choose A over B or what other factors were a consideration in their decision so you can gauge whether their approach is analogous to your situation.
#2: Develop a Visual System – Sometimes the trouble with information is that there is simply too much of it and often different pieces of information point in opposite directions which in itself often leads to paralysis.
Use a visual mapping system to translate the ‘raw data’ into tangible images. This is where those pie chart and graphing tool come in handy. Even a simple mindmap can help you decipher what appears to be a mindboggling amount data.
#3: Apply a Risk Threshold – Calculate the cost of a wrong decision and use that to determine how much research is necessary to justify the decision. Costs may include money, time or hassle of changing course on a wrong decision.
Now weigh that potential risk against the cost of not making a decision. What is it costing you to continue not making a decision? The lower the risk of making a bad decision, the less time needs to be spent on analysis.
#4: Factor in Uncertainty – Accepting that you are making a decision based in imperfect information doesn’t mean taking a wild leap off the deep end. Make a contingency plan for dealing with uncertainty.
Giving your decisions a bit of ‘wiggle room’ for uncertainty not only prepares you for those uncertainties, but it also helps overcome the temptation to over analyze and not make a decision.
#5: Decide and Adjust – Make a decision knowing that it may not be perfect, but that it’s more important to decide and act. The key is to monitor the outcome and adjust course as necessary.
That may mean a shift to the right or the left or that may mean abandoning that course of action altogether if it proves to be the wrong choice. The key is to not stop gathering information once the decision is made.