How Not to Be Paralyzed by Information

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With an analytical mind, I love having information. I can quickly build a solid case for a decision by distilling critical information from the amassed data. Useful information is great but we could be paralyzed by too much information. The flip side is we end up spending too much time looking for that perfect piece of support data; that perfect what-if scenario; that perfect solution. The reality is that perfection could be paralysing.

Here are several steps to follow:

  • Start from the problem you need to solve.
  • Identify what information is critical. For example, you want to select a new software solution. The information that you must need includes functionality, compatibility with your existing technology infrastructure, ease of use, price, vendor reputation, etc.
  • Scan through the information gathered and group them into categories. Assign a theme to each category. For the above example, the themes could be functionality, technology platform, etc.
  • Discard the information that is irrelevant.
  • Perform analysis.
  • Make decisions.
  • When you feel that you need more information, ask how much you would gain with that extra bit of information.
  • If the answer is marginal, then it doesn’t worth the effort to do further research. You have all the important information to make a sound decision.
  • If the answer is significant, then proceed to gather more information.
  • Be conscious of the question you want to address. Remind yourself frequently.

There is a diminishing return when you get into a frenzy of attempting to address every question, even the unimportant ones.

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