Guiding Quote

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” Einstein

Saturday, May 5, 2012

O-O-D-A Loop: Step 2 Orientate, Part 4 - Analysis and Synthesis

This is the element that creates the options from which we will select our decision. Now remember all these elements can be occurring in a short span of time and maybe happen simultaneously. In the case of a fighter pilot it is a short period of time, they basically are conducting most of this subconsciously. In the case of a business strategist the time span is longer. But analysis and synthesis is what takes place when new information from the observe phase meets the other elements.  It is where we filter the mass of information into useable amounts, process these amounts, answer the ‘So what now’ question and create our options. At the basic genetic level its “Do we fight or do we flee?’; at the past experience level ‘It’s have we faced this situation before?’, ‘What did we do?’, ‘Did it work?’. 

Synthesis involves problem solving and creating solutions; techniques from creative designing methodologies, like Triz, and from problem resolving methodologies, like evaporating clouds from the Theory of Constraints (TOC), can help: But there are many, many, others.

The danger is that there is always a reason why you need to do more analysis, why you need better options. This is where ‘analysis paralysis’ occurs. This is when the good strategist mires her opponent by getting them to analyze ever changing information and situations. This is where fear of failure can wreak havoc in a leader’s mind. The ‘What if this is not the best choice?’ question can stall many a response in a fluid situation.  This is where you want your opponent to permanently dwell, while you linger only long enough to make a sound judgment.

My advice, when in this position, particularly when acting against a more nimble competitor, is to remember the adage, ‘the perfect is the enemy of the good’. There is no such thing as the perfect solution, but there are usually plenty of good enough options that, if selected promptly, will suffice.  Usually the people casting around for a perfect decision are frightened of making any decision.

There’s an old joke about two men, one an engineer and the other a mathematician, who are placed in a long room with two attractive and scantily clad ladies at the opposite end of the room. The two men are instructed that they can only move towards the girls by taking a step that is not greater than one half of the remaining distance between them and the girls.

The mathematician sat down and worked out the problem. He cried out. “But it can’t be done, we’ll never get there.”
The engineer replied, briefly disengaging himself from the arms of his girl, “You’re right, but near enough, is good enough!”

I told you it was an old joke, not necessarily a good one.

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