Service operations generate mountains of data associated with the performance of the department. Leaders can and do devote a lengthy amount of time and energy simply compiling accurate and relative data, never mind analyzing what it means.
Once the data is gathered, Management must then compare their findings to established goals, benchmarks and historical performance. Unfortunately, the effort and time involved often deters even savvy managers. This inaction, combined with the mind-boggling amount of data available, often leads to missing perfectly good opportunities, or worse, identifying and correcting mistakes and areas that are being abused or misused. Because of these reasons, a lot of Service Departments suffer from analysis paralysis. Wikipedia defines Analysis Paralysis as follows;
Analysis paralysis or paralysis by analysis is, in essence, scrutinizing a scenario so that action never happens, in effect paralyzing the outcome. Over-thinking about a decision leads the individual to the point where a choice never gets made, creating indecision and/or procrastination.
A Service Manager is weighed down with analysis paralysis when they are:
- Overcome by the available possibilities with reporting complexity that renders them inaccurately estimating or unaware of the Departments current status of performance relative to targets and goals.
- Complicating a conclusion when it could be fairly easy.
- Delaying decisions until proper research is completed.
- Avoiding decisions to keep from being wrong.
As a Service Manager if you are experiencing any of these symptoms of analysis paralysis, here are a few tips I hope will help.
- Identify your objectives. Do you know what your targets are? Develop basic but revealing key performance indicators (K.P.I.s) that can be visited daily. Good K.P.I.s keep the carrot clearly in view. The purpose of your decisions surrounding your objectives should be to achieve something from the conclusion: making progress, fixing a problem, identifying excellence as well as lack luster performance so appropriate action can happen.
- Release your past habits surrounding decision making. Begin again fresh. Do not over-think about how you made decisions in the past, especially if you have been having paralysis by analysis. Simply and straight forwardly, work through your objectives and the opportunities, all towards making a concise decision.
- Perfection is not necessarily the objective. A decision should simply be a step towards the right direction of a target and an objective. The important part is making progress towards your end goal or improving your K.P.I.s.
- Distinguish between large and small decisions. Question: How imperative is this data or information towards making a decision? Will the consequence of this decision make a difference ongoing? What’s the worst thing that can happen if I don’t do this? Allot only the time and effort that your analysis deserves, based on its rank and constructive results. Don’t get lost in the forest of weeds!
- Avoid overcomplicated incentives and pay plans that require an inordinate amount of time and energy to determine the individual’s performance. Compensation should align with the departments goals, targets and key performance indicators. Many managers spend hours on payroll each week when that time could be engaged in activities to move closer and closer to the goal.
- Just act! If you are perplexed by the possibilities and you are not sure which one to choose, but none of them would be damaging to your goal, then just pick one and do a trial run. You can assess the result of the decision over time but at least you acted and didn’t allow yourself to be frozen by over-analysis.
- Commit to a timeline. Your time is valuable, setting a limit should be based on the rank of the decision. Since time is relative to the priority, there is no law on how to set a limit. You’re looking for relative improvement and progress towards your goals, so if you haven’t been setting time limits based on priorities, start today.
- Delegate the choice to trusted staff. This works if you trust the judgement of that person and you’re alright with not handling it yourself. Ensure that you stay in the loop, know what the consequences are in regards to costs to your objectives, and then appraise the effect of the decision over time.
- Get someone else’s assessment and run with it! You are still the driver and firmly in control. Seek council, guidance, mentoring from someone in whom you have confidence. The idea is to listen so they can help you make the decision. Be careful how you frame it as your associate may be expecting you to take their advice or at the very least make a decision in regard to the topic.
Over analysis is the executioner of progress and with today’s overwhelming resources of data and information from every direction, it’s easy to see why. Examine your habits and culture and make a move to simplify your decision making. Use these guidelines to move your department towards your mutual goals and the muddle of being paralyzed by over analysis will be a thing of the past!