How To Avoid Analysis Paralysis and Make the Just-Right Decision

Think of the acronym IDECIDE when going through your decision-making process.


Theodore Roosevelt once said, "In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing." As people, we make decisions all day long, starting from what time we wake up to what time we go to sleep. Some decisions are relatively simple and others quite difficult. Oftentimes people panic and wind up experiencing analysis paralysis and are simply unable to make a decision.

Making the Just-Right Decision

The reason people experience analysis paralysis, in my opinion, is that they see decision-making as binary. People think they can only make a right or wrong decision. Focusing on getting the decision right or fearing they may get it wrong can paralyze people from making any decision. Instead of seeing decision-making as binary, I encourage the leaders with whom I work to focus on making the just-right decision. A just-right decision is based on the information you have in front of you at the time.

I can't tell you how many decisions I have made as a CEO. I have made simple, quick decisions, like what color we would paint the walls to difficult decisions, like terminating a staff member. You too will be faced with a myriad of decisions; some will be time-sensitive and urgent, and others may be made slowly. The steps for making thoughtful and concise decisions are outlined below. Think of the acronym IDECIDE when going through your decision-making process.

I – Identify the problem: To make the best decision possible, first identify the problem. A person cannot make a thoughtful, impactful decision without figuring out what the problem is they are trying to solve.

D – Due diligence: As you get ready to solve the problem, you need to gather information on it. Consider what information you need to make the best possible decision. What data should you review? What does your gut say? What other information exists that would help you understand the problem and contemplate solutions?

E – Each possible solution: Carefully review each possible solution you can consider. Don't put any limitations on your solutions; think outside of the ordinary answers. I was at a workshop once and the presenter said that after you consider a solution, you should then ask yourself, "What's the next best idea?" By doing that, you will broaden your options.

C – Cons v. pros: Each possible solution will have potential cons and pros. Review each and make a list. Weigh the impact of each to determine the risk versus reward.

I – Input: When making difficult decisions, it is always good practice to run your decision by someone you trust. If there is no one in your organization with whom you can speak it would be beneficial to have a coach. A coach is a non-affected third party who can give you honest feedback on your potential decision.

D – Decide: Make the best decision you can with the information you have. Don't avoid making a decision; people are looking to you for leadership and guidance.

E – Educate: Some decisions necessitate educating and informing your stakeholders. You will need to determine who will be impacted by the decision, how much information you need to share and how to disseminate the information.

After the Decision

Once you make a decision, it is important that you monitor it. Are you getting the outcome you anticipated? If you find that you aren't getting the desired outcomes, revisit the IDECIDE method with any new information that has come to light. Also, it is important to learn from the process. Not every decision will require a time-consuming decision process. IDECIDE can go quickly for minor decisions. With more complex problems, it can take more time and effort to arrive at a successful decision. In these instances, it is good to conduct a post-decision analysis to see how the decision impacted the organization and the stakeholders.

Implementing the IDECIDE method can help ensure you no longer suffer from analysis paralysis and you make the just-right decision. This schema not only enables you to consider multiple perspectives, it takes subjectivity and emotion out of the decision-making process. Suffer from analysis paralysis no more!

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