The Play of Analysis

Langley, Ann

Analysis is pervasive. Managers read and write lots of reports and do quite a bit of number-crunching. Yet we all know of situations where decisions were wrong because they just weren’t well thought out (“extinction by instinct”), and we know of others that were analyzed interminably without getting anywhere (“paralysis by analysis”). 

Paradoxically, we sometimes seem to over-analyze the little decisions and under-analyze the big ones. How and why does this happen? What can we do about it?

The objectives for this topic are to:

  • Understand how and why analysis is used.
  • Consider situations where we overdo it or underdo it.
  • Think about how to get the balance right.

This topic is available in a "for non-profits" version.

Here's How it Works


This is a new approach to developing management and leadership skills. Using one of our topic discussion guides, you gather with a small group of peers or direct reports to spend 90 minutes working through the topic one page at a time. Each page has the content and questions to drive your thinking forward and improve your management and leadership skills.

World renowned thinkers such as Mintzberg, Schein, Adler, Ulrich, and over 30 more have captured their ideas and pedagogy on a broad range of topics in our 75 themed discussion guides. These guide your management learning sessions, beginning with reflective discussions on personal experiences and ending with new insights and learnings.  Individual managers use these during 90 minute self-guided sessions. Organizations use these as the foundation for innovative leadership training and change management programs.

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