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Analysis Paralysis (#28)

The Confident Leader

This past week in North Texas we experienced a massive winter storm. To “survive” we made decisions with lightning speed. Drip the faucets. Light the candles. Start a fire. Bundle up. Empty the freezer. Break the ice forming in the pool. Amid this chaos is there a lesson for leaders in decision making? 

You’ve heard the saying, ‘Analysis creates paralysis.’ You can’t be 100 percent sure of anything.
— Mark Burnett

This Week’s Edition

DECISION MAKING: What does it mean to be decisive? When is enough information enough? When does a desire for more information bring the whole decision-making process to a grinding halt?

Clarify Your Thinking

I was in a coaching session with Sarah, a top leader struggling with the decision to promote a long-time employee to a new position.


“Robin, I like to promote from within the organization. In this case the internal candidate seems to be the best option.”

“What’s the hesitation?” I asked.

“Given the position’s high visibility, I need to know she will be the right fit for the role before I hire her.”

“How will you do that?” I asked.

“I can’t. That’s the problem.”

“Exactly. That’s thinking issue #1. It is impossible to have 100 percent certainty on any decision before you make it, because all the information isn’t available before you decide.”


“Let’s talk about what you do know. What does your current information suggest?”

“Hire her!” Sarah said.

“Then how much more information do you need in order to make the decision you have already made?”

“None!” She said.

“Great. Then, you can make your decision confidently.” I coached.


“Wait,” she pleaded, “what if I hire her and the worst happens?” Sarah proceeded by giving me a litany of horrible things including the total and utter loss of her business thus exposing thinking issue #2.

Calmly I asked, “Sarah, what’s the likelihood that the worst-case scenario could happen?”

“About a 1% chance,” she resignedly acknowledged.


“It’s just that I don’t want to make a mistake.” She confessed.

“Ah, there is thinking issue #3,” I said, “You don’t want to fail.”



post pandemic vision

Thoughts Lead to Actions

The coaching conversation with Sarah revealed that she was focused on playing not to lose (versus playing to win). At that moment, she was more attached to the outcome (a successful internal promotion) than committed to the process to generate the outcome: 1) a good search process, 2) detailed on-boarding plan; and, 3) high-touch coaching.


“This happens to me with big decisions,” Sarah offered. “I freeze up. I go back and forth with all the information and end up getting lost in the analysis of it all.”
“Analysis paralysis?”


“For decisions with lower stakes, you’ve shared with me that your approach is to make a plan, go forward and adjust as you get more information.’”

“That sounds like me.” Sarah said. “But, clearly that is not how I am approaching this.”

Sarah’s routine decision-making was sound. Her step-by-step approach works for all types of decisions, big and small:


1.   Have an idea.

2.   Make a plan based on the information available.

3.   Seek counsel to improve the plan.

4.   Execute on the plan.

5.   Take in more information.

6.   Adjust your plan as needed.


Using her own decision-making process Sarah hopped off the fence of indecision. She hired the internal candidate. It proved to be the right choice, and she used the concerns she had to craft an early coaching plan during the on-boarding phase.

Boost Your Performance

In order to venture toward our sweet spot, we must step over the threshold of analysis. In the illustration above, the yellow circle is the analysis we undertake while still in the comfort zone. To elevate our performance, we must proactively decide to leave comfort zone (with the information we have) and pitch our leadership tent in the discomfort zone!

What’s Your Opinion?

Do you get stuck in analysis? Share with me how you get unstuck and make important decisions by sending me an email at

Don’t let doubt count you out. Have a confident week!

robin pou, chief advisor and strategist

Robin Pou, Chief Advisor and Strategist

If this was helpful, feel free to share it with another leader who needs to defeat doubt and complete their confidence.

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What is “The Confident Leader”?

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, I began a video series called “Panic or Plan?” It was designed to equip leaders to navigate the doubt they experienced and to rise in the confidence they needed to lead during turbulent times. It took off. I then started this newsletter to equip leaders in the same fashion each week for the doubt that crashes across the bow of their leaderSHIP.

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