I’m a research geek. I love researching problems to find solutions. I love visiting websites, reading magazines (yes, they count in research as long as a Kardashian isn’t on the front), interviewing experts and gathering the facts and stats I need to make a decision. But what if the decision I have to make is one I’m not ready for? What if I’m using research to avoid decision making? Then my friends, we have paralysis by analysis and too much research. If you sometimes are a victim of this modern day disease, then read on. I’ve got a cure for your decision making dilemma.
I would never recommend to anyone that they proceed on a major decision before doing research. Just like I don’t usually take anyone’s word on a topic (sorry everybody who gives me advice and didn’t know this). Even if something makes perfect sense and I trust the person implicitly, I’ll research it. But for those of you who are like minded in the research department, how much IS too much? And can we set guidelines that allow us to move forward safely without wasting time and avoiding decisions? I know we can.
The WHO (World Health Organization) sets down a recommended format for research protocol as it pertains to medical research. Having a healthcare background, this appeals to me. A logical, straight forward way to collect and collate information with a key component: a deadline. How long EXACTLY is this going to take? If you do nothing else in your research that even vaguely resembles a structured approach, I strongly urge you to use this one tactic. Why? Because deadlines hold us accountable (as long as we stand firm on it) and they force us to reconcile our time to the task. Sound a bit heavy? Can your business afford to be paralyzed while you analyze? I know mine can’t.
Here are the top 5 steps I recommend you include in your research planning:
1. Project summary: does this have to be long? Not at all. Simply identifying your topic and the outcome from researching it is enough.
- ie. Find an online banking platform
- needs to be affordable, accessible, able to add more than one user, can accommodate more than one business
- outcome: I’ll be able to handle my banking or eventually hire an accountant and won’t get a nasty shock come tax season
2. Methodology: a fancy way of saying how you are going to do the research
- online comparisons
- talk to peers and colleagues
- request info from sites
3. Data management and statistical analysis: a long way of saying are you going to use an Excel spreadsheet, a post it or Google doc?
- I’m going to record the name of the software, the web address, the cost, if it has the features I need
- Then I’m going to see which one most closely matches my budget and needs
4. Speaking of Budget: I strongly advise that if you are just starting out, you find a solution that fits your budget and current circumstances. You don’t need to be paying for services you don’t need or people you haven’t yet hired. Make sure the product you use has the ability to expand with you otherwise you’ll blow your budget re-doing everything. Trust me. Learned that one the hard way.
5. Duration: And here we find the best way to end your paralysis. You might still be afraid to make that decision you’ve been researching for but at least you’ll be 5 steps closer to taking making something happen.
- Put it on your calendar: virtual or physical. Though virtual has the perk of attaching pesky reminders that said deadline is approaching.
- Deputize a colleague or peer to hold you accountable. Nothing says get it one like someone giving you the hairy eyeball.
This might sound like a lot of work just to solve a problem but if that problem is holding you back from making a decision that could positively impact your business, then it’s worth it. Invest in a process that will help you save time, make money and make the right decision. Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease but in this case, your business can’t afford to be paralyzed while you analyze.
Yours in ‘trepping