Decide, Learn, Adapt – A Mantra for Avoiding Analysis Paralysis

Decide Learn AdaptAnalysis Paralysis (AP) has been stalking me the last few weeks. Like an obsessed, crazy ex-girlfriend, AP has been hounding me at every turn. She’s been encouraging me to delay decisions, seek out additional data, and gather input from more people, all in an effort to rekindle a relationship I’d rather forget.

It’s no coincidence that AP has re-entered my life. She often shows up when work is busy and I’m having to manage through significant periods of change. She beckons me to take comfort in delaying decisions for just one more day. It’s safer that way, she says. You’ll have more information tomorrow…you’ll think more clearly in the morning…it’s no big deal, people can wait another day. These are all things AP says to me, and I have to admit, they sound pretty darn good.

But I don’t want to be in relationship with AP. I’ve been there, done that, and have the t-shirt to prove it. So I came up with a new mantra this week to keep AP at arm’s length. When it comes to navigating through the murky waters of change, I’m going to decide, learn, and adapt.

Decide – I’ve learned that I will rarely have all the information and data I would like in order to make the perfect decision. In today’s environment of rapid-fire change, perfect decisions don’t exist. I’ve committed to making the best decision possible given what I know at the present time. Will it be 100% correct the first time? Probably not. But at least I’ll be doing something to move forward rather than hanging out with AP and doing nothing.

Learn – AP has tried to convince me in the past that spending time with her is the smart thing to do because it will allow me to make better decisions and avoid costly mistakes. Well, I’ve learned that making mistakes is actually one of the best ways to learn and improve. I’m going to decide on a course of action, pursue it, and see what I learn from the experience.

Adapt – Learning is great, but if you don’t do anything with the new-found knowledge, it doesn’t have much value. Adapting is putting learning into practice and it’s much more attractive to me that being in relationship with AP. She likes to tell me that I have to get things 100% right the first time and it’s not OK to change course after I’ve made a decision. That’s just another one of her manipulative lies.

Decide, learn, adapt. Decide, learn, adapt. Decide, learn, adapt. It’s an iterative cycle of managing change by making the best decision possible given the information available, learning from the successes and failures of the experience, and adapting to the new reality based on what has been learned.

Best of all, it keeps me away from Analysis Paralysis. That girl is bad news.

13 Comments on “Decide, Learn, Adapt – A Mantra for Avoiding Analysis Paralysis

  1. Love it! Art students easily get stuck with AP in their quest to complete projects. Now I have some words and a process description to help them move through this ugly phase. Thanks!

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    • I’m glad you found it helpful Charlotte! I can imagine art students frequently battle with Analysis Paralysis, which I think would be common for any creative pursuit.

      Best wishes,

      Randy

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  2. “Doing something to move forward”. This is so important! Thank you for this Mantra_ avoiding AP

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  3. Really great Randy! I struggle with making decisions with limited information all the time. It feels hard to go forward when you know things are uncertain but I agree that as a leader you often have to take a deep breath and do it anyway. It’s also critical to keep the bumps that come after a decision in perspective and know that they are part of the learning and growing process. Good advice!

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    • Hi Katy – Thanks for your comments. It does feel hard sometimes to move forward when you don’t have all the information you’d like, but that’s why leaders exist, right? Someone has to make a decision!

      Take care,

      Randy

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  4. Great post, Randy. I especially like the connection you made between making imperfect decisions and learning. I know some folks (myself included) who struggle with perfectionism and perhaps they will find it helpful to shift their focus to learning.

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    • Thanks Jamie. I can relate to the perfectionistic tendencies. Sometimes we spend most of our time and energy trying to wrap up those few final details, when instead we could have made our decision much earlier and been ahead of the game (even if we had to subsequently change course).

      Randy

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  5. Pingback: Decide, Learn, Adapt – A Mantra for Avoiding Analysis Paralysis | fred zimny's serve4impact

  6. Solid three steps, Randy. It keeps the conversion going so we don’t run in place. Learning and adapting are such critical steps to remain flexible as well as making necessary changes to keep growing, achieving, and moving in the right direction. A great way to work and lead! Thanks. Jon

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    • Thank you for your comments Jon. I think it’s important to maintain forward momentum, even if it’s just baby steps for a period of time until the situation becomes more clear and you can start walking and then running!

      Take care,

      Randy

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  7. That girl is indeed bad news Randy! Thanks for the motivating reminder as I move into another new project. Today I move forward without worrying about being 100% correct.

    Kevin

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