Progress Not Perfection

How many times do we get caught in the conundrum of ‘analysis paralysis’?

I have been working with a particular client who has an insatiable desire to know everything before he can get started. Thus, he spends over 85% of his allotted time to get a task completed – researching, double and triple checking facts, and basically performing the beloved ‘CYA” (covering your ‘hind side’). This has resulted in missed deadlines, a reputation for indecisiveness, and a perception of insecurity – as he can’t make strong, courageous judgment calls without analyzing every single possible circumstance which could happen. Whew – that wears me out just thinking about it!

Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for analyzing, weighing alternatives, building contingency plans, and evaluating pros/cons of situations. However, the disease of over-analyzing is like the clean-freak turning into a victim of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). This can become paralyzing which leads to inaction, a basic lack of progress, and a reputation for weakness as a leader. This does not serve anyone – least of all the individual.

One key point worth thinking about:

Forward momentum is growth. When we take steps – they may or may not ultimately be in the right direction; however, they are movement. Without movement, it is very hard to grow, expand, and learn. We need to focus on progress not perfection. When we seek perfection, often this stalls our movement. We wait and ponder – not wanting to make a mistake or a bad call – and yet that in and of itself can be the mistake. As leaders, we need to concentrate on making progress. We may need to turn right or left, we may need to slow down or speed up, and we may even need to reverse. However, through all those movements – we have made progress. That is the key.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever stalled out of fear or insecurity of making a wrong decision? What did you learn from ‘taking the plunge’ without knowing everything to perfection?

4 responses to “Progress Not Perfection

  1. Your article below reminded of a presentation I attended this past January in San Francisco-It was by Eric Ries and the topic was the “Minimum Viable Product”. I am really intrigued with this concept. It is probably more applicable to s/w development then any “hard” products-but then again Honda first entered the car marked with a “minimally viable product”. Anyway if you are not aware of Eric and his MVP theory his book might be an interesting read. The way it ties into “analysis paralysis” is that he uses the analogy of a start up that had an idea, got funded, hired people, built a product, put it on the web and no one ever hit the “buy now” button. His exaggerated example is that they could have had the description and “buy” now button up on the web in a day and would’ve immediately known that the product they spent $20million developing was not viable. Ie; it minimizes the analysis paralysis, and then mis-directed development.



  2. This blog certainly speaks to my “ready, fire, aim” mentality. I particularly appreciate the need to prepare and you have given validation to my moving forward attitude. Thanks, WiseWoman!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *