Risk Analysis Paralysis

About a week ago, consultant James Yoakum posted a blog asking if the enormous amount of attention business pays to risk analysis has resulted in a state of "decision paralysis."  Yoakum is a leadership coach who specializes in project risk management, operations risk, and analytical thinking.

What exactly is decision paralysis?  According to Yoakum, it is a point in the decision process where the opportunity cost of further analysis is greater than its potential benefit.  Here he’s thinking in terms of decision evaluation involving too many variables, too much data, too many twists and turns, and–for him this is the killer–too great an emphasis on perfection.  In short, unnecessarily complicated thinking.  The result, he says, is too often a postponed decision, procrastination.

It’s not hard to imagine a project management team swamped in just this kind of muddle. But how can that team figure out when good enough is good enough?
Doesn’t this bring us back around full circle to apply risk assessment to the decision analysis process?  And isn’t this what a tautology is?

I’d love to hear from any of you who have experienced analysis paralysis and to  have your thoughts on how to know when more analysis becomes too much analysis.  

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1 Comment

  1. I’ve run across this phenomena many times in my career. I preach "best is the enemy of better" to my direct reports.

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