A decision can be defined as an action taken in a situation of uncertainty. When you are faced with a choice between many courses of action, and you select one path based on the information available to you, then you are said to have taken a decision. If you reach this decision soon, then you are called decisive. However, if you take too much time to think what course of action to take, you are said to be facing analysis paralysis. Analysis paralysis or paralysis by analysis is a phenomenon that happens when you over-analyze a problem so much that you are not able to take a decision to get rid of it.

The main reason for it to happen is your fear of your decision going wrong and causing a catharsis. A decisive person will never face this situation because he does not have the fear of his decision going wrong. He is confident that his action will have good results. In the game of cricket, if a batsman is doing well then he can improvise to such an extent that he can invent his own shots to hit the ball. However, when he is not doing well, he will be hesitant in his footwork and consequently his shot making will not be that firm and assertive. So although, he may be hitting a shot as per the book, he will go wrong because there is fear of failure in his body.

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It has been a common occurrence in the corporate world that the larger a company, the longer it’s time to come to a decision. First, such companies have layers of hierarchy through which any decision has to pass. All of them think on the decision and then finally, clear it. By that time, the situation has changed to such an extent that the action taken has no value.  The primary reason why the action has been taken is now no longer valid. Secondly, there is a fear in everyone’s mind that if they make a mistake, they will have to pay for it with their jobs. Therefore, such companies take their decisions very slowly. This is another example of analysis paralysis.

Analysis paralysis is a common phenomenon in the industry. The software industry is a case in point. When developing a software application, if the product life cycle exceeds the pre-defined timelines, it means that analysis paralysis has set in. If such a product has exceedingly long project phases then that means that the development team including the manager is facing paralysis by analysis. This can only be remedied by resorting to a lean approach. In other words, if there are too many members in the development team, and if some of them are laid off, then the team will become lean and, therefore, will be able to take quick decisions.

Therefore, we can say that analysis paralysis or paralysis by analysis is a phenomenon that delays decisions, leads to unwanted outcomes, leads to cost overruns and many consequences that are more undesirable.