Bill Hargin

The "founder" of TMI asks, How much is more analysis worth?

Just because something can be done doesn’t mean that it should be done.

A few customer encounters this past month caused an issue to ricochet around in my mind like a 1970s pinball machine. I’m referring to a trap we’ve all fallen into: analysis paralysis.

Three interrelated definitions I have for analysis paralysis are worth enumerating:

  1. The condition of being indecisive while overanalyzing alternatives. (Classic analysis paralysis.)
  2. Allowing a project to mushroom into something bigger than it needs to be to get the job done. (This column is a good example.)
  3. Using data from the most expensive tools you own just because you have the tools or the data (e.g., it’s expensive and took a lot of time, so it must be good).

It’s not that analysis or expensive tools aren’t good, but their employment is an optimization process.

Relative to the above, I can’t and won’t lecture on trying to rely on overanalyzing things or using “too much information” as if I have a solid handle on it. When non-engineers say to me, “That’s TMI,” I say, “I invented TMI.”

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