Article Date: 9/1/2008

Analysis Paralysis: Why Some of Us Wait to Pull The Trigger
o.d. to o.d.

Analysis Paralysis: Why Some of Us Wait to Pull The Trigger

When the decision-making process becomes more attractive than actually making the decision, we lose an edge.

Chief Optometric Editor

Decisions, decisions, decisions. We make decisions all day everyday. We make clinical decisions regarding our patients, business decisions regarding our practices and personal decisions that impact our life and the lives of our family and friends.

We make some, or perhaps most of our decisions unconsciously: Which shoe we slip into first, which hand we hold our car keys, etc.

Fortunately, these unconscious decisions aren't big ones. They are decisions that, for the most part, go unnoticed, as their outcome has no negative consequences.

The tough decisions

The "tough" decisions — the ones in which a lot is riding on us getting it right, and we only have one chance to do so — however, rob us of heart muscle, stomach lining and keep us up at night.

Through the years of building and managing my practice, I've felt I had to make decisions that were of the "make or break" variety. You know what I mean, as you've made them too. Make the right decision, and your practice grows to the next level, make the wrong decision, and you could very well loose your practice altogether.

In looking back, however, I can see now that many of these decisions weren't quite as extreme as "make or break." But, at the time, they sure felt that way. Think back yourself, and I'm sure you'll come to the same conclusion.

In assessing past "tough" decision-making with regards to my practice and the practices for which I've consulted, I realize now that my clients and I made a lot more tough decisions than there were tough decisions to make. Simply put, many practitioners are better at making decisions tough than they are at making "tough" decisions.

Simply put, many practitioners are better at making decisions tough than they are at making tough decisions.

The end result is that we place ourselves under more pressure than necessary, detracting us from what's truly important, such as our clinical and business responsibilities and our families. And, optometrists seem to be as good or better at making decisions tough than any other profession around.

Waiting to pull the trigger

Analysis paralysis is something of which we've all heard. It's one of the ways we make decisions tough; it's that no-man's-land between information gathering and pulling the trigger on a decision. It's that netherworld where the wallowing in the details takes on a life of it's own.

What happens is that the process of making a decision becomes attractive and mesmerizing to the point at which we either forget or diminish the importance of the decision itself.

Some persons in other professions contend that we, as optometrists, are slow to accept new technology and new opportunities. While this is true for some of us — that is, those who purposely wait until a new technology becomes convention — for many the lag in adaptation is more a function of either an inability to efficiently make a decision, or avoidance by-making a decision unnecessarily difficult. Yet in today's business and clinical environments, the ability to make the right decision at the right time is a valuable best practice.

To enhance your ability to make "tough" decisions in a timely manner and to feel confident in your ability to wisely decide, approach your decision making as a process rather than as an event. OM

Optometric Management, Issue: September 2008