The answer to the question above, like most things in life, probably lies somewhere in-between.

Analysis paralysis (or paralysis by analysis) is the state of over-thinking a situation, so a decision or action is never taken – in effect paralyzing the outcome. The converse is to try something out, then change and adapt if problems arise.

It happens when a decision is over-complicated, with too many detailed options, such that a choice is never made. The organisation in question might be seeking an optimal or perfect solution, and fear making any decision which could lead to erroneous results.

It describes a situation where the opportunity cost of decision analysis exceeds the benefits that could be gained by enacting one. Or an informal or non-deterministic situation, where the sheer quantity of analysis overwhelms the decision-making process itself.

It may also be a dysfunctional element of organizational behaviour.

Over the years, I’ve often found myself thinking ‘just do it’ – particularly in the complex (and occasionally overwhelming) field of engagement and culture change. While this phrase could be interpreted as an expression of frustration and exasperation, it could equally be read as the motto of an innovative, progressive organisation. One unafraid to run with an idea that seems to make sense and add value to a business.

Yes, I realise there are resource implications to be thought through in every decision, but these need to be weighed against the gains of a timely one.

So, in the context of implementing your culture change programme, here are a few tips on how to frame it and avoid stagnation:

  • Create a sense of urgency for change – otherwise why would anyone want to be part of the programme
  • Put together a steering group with enough power to lead the change – include a board level champion
  • Develop a clear change vision
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate – the vision
  • Empower people – they’ll make some honest mistakes but develop as individuals
  • Remove barriers and have mentors –  to aid the process when required
  • Generate short-term wins – create a virtuous cycle of success to defeat the naysayers
  • Be determined in the short-term – and in the long-run, and make it stick

You never know, it might just save someone’s life.