Analysis, Paralysis and Time Management
Paralysis by Analysis! An expression well known and so real!
Some days ago I had the opportunity to act as the main trainer of more than 20 creative people coming from various European countries and to share with them my experiential knowledge on Entrepreneurship and Creative Economy, within the framework of CreativeLab project. One of the training “tools” applied was group activities, because interaction among participants, based on certain case studies and by using certain business and design thinking techniques, promotes the exchange of ideas and knowledge and contributes to the process of learning by acting and doing. During the implementation of those activities I was there for the participants to answer to their questions, to guide them so as to be more effective on what were asked to do and to observe the way they acted and behaved as individuals as well as teams.
What I observed (as always of course in any adult training course) was that some teams fulfilled the activities on time while some others couldn’t manage to do so.
Teams in the second case, even if they consisted of few members, firstly, they didn’t follow some of my advices/instructions as related to how they could better manage their time and to how they could face the questions/cased given. But, their most important problem was that they entered into a process of over analyzing things. They couldn’t see the big picture, they couldn’t see the forest for the trees and they got caught by some small details and then they were lost in a vicious cycle of analysis. This resulted in missing the point and eventually not to be able to reach the stage of decision-making. One more characteristic of these teams was that they focused more on the problem than on the solution.
On the contrary, the teams in the first case (which fulfilled the activities on time) followed a more agile approach. They divided time into intervals, according to the “questions” they had to answer. Each team member undertook a certain role. The working group focused on the solution, on the final decision and not on the problem/problems that existed and/or arose during the process. Group members didn’t have “inflated” ego (or if they had they quickly “forced” to integrate and follow the horizontal form of co-operation) and they were open to new ideas and knowledge. This led to a rapid consolidation state of the different opinions, views and ideas and thus project development was feasible.
It is important to mention that except the fact that these teams managed to implement their projects on time, their deliverables were imbued with more creativity. These teams were creative in a productive way.
Finally, I could say, the first case teams were teams dedicated to immediate and effective action, to implementation, and teams of the second case were more dedicated to theory, excessive analysis and too much talking.
But this is something which happens also during our daily lives. When we talk too much, when we supposedly try to light up a problem, finally, we cannot manage to implement our ideas because we paralyze by the analysis. We spend too much energy in words, instead of proceed into implementation.
Developers, Drivers, Drifters and Dreamers
Through my own observation and through the discussions I had with the participants, it seemed that finally, most of the people who belonged to the “effective” teams were people who “think as needed.” They were, as Todd Henry, founder of the Accidental Creative calls them, “Developers.” They knew how to map, make and mesh. They tried to integrate all the available resources and opportunities to create value. They planned, they had a framework, and then, they passed to execution. In parallel, they learned by their actions as well as by their colleagues. They were lifelong learners.
In the contrary, the members of the less effective teams belonged to one of the following three (3) categories:
“Drivers”: they knew how to map, to set up the plan and to execute, but they weren’t willing to develop their skills by learning through their mistakes or by the others. The “Drivers” were extremely focused on results but not on future effectiveness.
“Drifters”: they were lifelong learners, they knew how to execute but they thought that a plan is not needed or they thought that they had a plan-while they hadn’t. They were lost in details and they couldn’t manage time. This attitude results in failing to follow through on many of their ideas and projects.
“Dreamers”: they had designing skills as far as the framework concerns, they were open to new knowledge, but they remained “creatives”. They used their imagination but they couldn’t proceed to the execution, thus, they couldn’t innovate. They talked too much, they analyzed everything and then they paralyzed. Dreamers are talkers and they rarely accomplish much because they lack the conviction, courage, or work ethic to put their plans in motion.
Research showed that over-analysis:
- Decreases people’s productivity
- Kills creativity
- Blocks quality decision-making
- Makes people less happy
If we stop being to captious and theoretical, if we stop over-analyzing every situation and of course if we are open to the experiential knowledge, then we will manage to be creative but also effectively productive, because we will manage to implement our ideas within the given timeframe, making the right decisions.
So, try to be or become a “Developer.” Engage with the mindset of a Developer. Use the Idea Management Framework as a guide which can protect you from the paralysis and test your skills in idea management by answering the 29 questions of the free E-Book entitled “Your Idea’s Journey.”
In order to answer the big problems with which Humanity and planet Earth are currently faced, we need “Big, Implementable Ideas.”
And don’t forget… Only “Developers” can change the world!
Dimitra Zervaki, EMBA, PMP, TTT
- Research Report: When High-Powered People Fail. Working Memory and ‘‘Choking Under Pressure’’ in Math: http://hpl.uchicago.edu/sites/hpl.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/Psychological%20Science2005.pdf
- Don’t Overthink It, Less Is More When It Comes to Creativity: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/don-t-overthink-it-less-is-more-when-it-comes-to-creativity/
- Scientific Paper: Extraneous factors in judicial decisions: http://www.pnas.org/content/108/17/6889.full.pdf
- Scientific http://www.swarthmore.edu/SocSci/bschwar1/maximizing.pdf Paper: Maximizing Versus Satisficing: Happiness Is a Matter of Choice: http://www.swarthmore.edu/SocSci/bschwar1/maximizing.pdf
- Henry, T., 2013. Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day. Portfolio/Penguin.
Photo Credit: Paul Foreman http://www.mindmapinspiration.com