How much data do you need to make a decision? How many angles must you assess a particular problem from, in order to feel comfortable that you've made the right decision? What is the 'right' decision, anyway?
Too often, we get caught up in endlessly turning the data over, delaying the decision. Sometimes because we feel need to 'think through things' just one more time, other times because we're (consciously or subconsciously) delaying the moment of truth.
I've heard many people cite business schools as the starting point for analysis paralysis, but that certainly isn't the intent or goal.
In fact, if you look at basic principles of the Socratic method that many schools deploy, it's evident that this isn't the case. You're presented with a business case, where the issues are laid out, where you know the problem(s) that must be solved. You are also presented with disparate pieces of data relating to the issue and you're asked to come up with a resolution. You don't (and won't) have all the data. So you need to analyze as best you can and make a judgment. You then hear management's point of view, what they actually did in that specific situation and decide what your perspective is.
My biggest takeaway from this case method was that there isn't always a right answer. There's almost always shades of gray. You may be right, you may be wrong. You might also be neither.
We often forget this when we enter the real world. We see executives agonize over decisions for weeks on end, as they consider whether they should or shouldn't make a particular strategic move, all while the underlying problem continues to fester and the business moves further and further behind as it awaits action.
The thing to remember in times like these is that there isn't a right answer. There is the answer that is right for you. There is the answer that in your experience, your judgment, your knowledge of your business, makes sense.
Taking the leap of faith, pulling the trigger on that decision isn't simple or easy. And when we find it hard, its worthwhile asking why.
Rationalize as we might, often the issue isn't data at all. Perhaps the issue isn't the complexity of the problem.
Maybe, it's much more simple than that. Maybe, it's about us.
Our ability to take a risk.
Our faith in ourselves.
Maybe the real question is - Do we trust ourselves?