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Don't Fall for Analysis Paralysis

Posted by EHS Insight Resources on February 24, 2020 at 10:18 AM

Analysis paralysis can happen in any organization. And even if the term isn’t familiar to you, the experience probably is. When you’re spending so much time thinking about the problem at hand that you’re unable to make a decision about how to move forward, you’re stuck in analysis paralysis.

Reasons You Might Paralyzed by Overthinking

There are many reasons why you might experience analysis paralysis. Maybe you’re overly cautious because you’ve been burned before or perhaps you don’t have confidence in the information you’re receiving.

It’s possible that you don’t feel qualified to make the necessary decision or there’s too much information to sift through. As a safety professional, analysis paralysis can affect your team’s productivity and at the highest levels, even risk your employment. 

Why Analysis Paralysis Is a Special Problem for Workplace Safety Pros

A safety professional has a lot of responsibility riding on how well their job duties are performed. And if you’re struggling to decide between two kinds of PPE, monitoring systems or training programs, precious time is wasted as you continue to gather data, consider your options, and seek out additional opinions, reviews or references.

That time could be marred by an employee injury or workplace accident, and no one wants to say the organization was planning on rolling out safety features or training but everyone was waiting on the decision-maker. 

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce your inability to follow through on decision-making. These strategies can be used individually or a few at a time, depending on your needs:

  1. Have a safety plan that outlines your decision-making process. When you get stuck, refer to the plan as your guide for moving forward.

  2. Prioritize your work appropriately so you can concentrate on the decisions that need to be made right now, instead of getting mired in something that isn’t important at this minute.

  3. When you have a deadline for a decision, stick to it instead of delaying it. Make the best decision you can with the information you have at hand; waiting doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get enough information to make an effective decision later. 

  4. Break large tasks into smaller and more manageable steps. Trying to solve a highly complex problem can feel overwhelming for anyone. By turning it into its component parts, you can take on a big decision a little at a time. 

  5. Understand the reality of your situation – there are some variables that can’t be measured and some things you can never know with certainty. GIve up on the notion that you’ll find the perfect solution to your problem and realize that a good enough solution can be just that – good enough – to allow you and your team to move forward. 

  6. Delegate tasks as needed and allow those delegates to act. By empowering others to participate in the process, you can avoid analysis paralysis because your delegates’ decision-making will continue to move the process even if you’re feeling stuck.

By deploying these strategies as single assists or in combination, you’ll stand a much better chance of overcoming analysis paralysis.

The goal of each of these steps is to drive action. If one technique doesn’t work for you, try another. And the next time you’re faced with a complicated, time-sensitive or otherwise important decision to be made, include some of these ideas in your planning process to avoid getting hung up on overthinking. 

Topics: Performance Improvement, Workplace Health and Safety, Professional Development

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