Paralysis from Analysis & How to Manage Perfectionists

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Often you will manage someone who may be described as a “perfectionist”.

This is often a problem accountants suffer from due to the nature of their work.

However one needs to consider “materiality” between “perfection for a reason” and “perfection for no reason” in the context of the job you are doing.


  • Spending an extra 2 hours at $180 per hour to reconcile a bank that’s out by a few dollars when total sales and total expenses are similar to last year is “perfect for no reason”


  • Spending 2 extra hours to reconcile the BAS which shows a different figure to the P&L is an example of “perfect for a reason”. 

When one combines “perfection for no reason” with “paralysis by analysis” you will find the person is unable to get the job completed and work piles up on their desk.

Wikipedia defines paralysis by analysis” as:
 “… the state of over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome. A decision can be treated as over-complicated, with too many detailed options, so that a choice is never made, rather than try something and change if a major problem arises. A person might be seeking the optimal or “perfect” solution upfront, and fear making any decision which could lead to erroneous results, while on the way to a better solution…”

If you are managing someone who is consistently suffering from both, you need to:

  1. Scope the job with a lot more detail
  2. Monitor the person more often with regular “how’s it going?”
  3. Ensure they are very clear about the expected outcome on a regular basis throughout the job. 

However if the person has low “duplication (low productivity) and after trying to help them, you have to decide whether they are “incompetent” (suffering from both “perfect for no reason” and “paralysis from analysis”) or simply they are “inexperienced”.

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If they are competent but inexperienced then it’s worth investing training time into this person.

However if its incompetence and not inexperience then its not worth investing anymore time, as not much will improve.

You then have to remember the following:

1. A seat left empty is better than a seat occupied by someone who is incompetent

2. Hire slow but fire fast.

You are not doing yourself or the person any favours in keeping that person.

 Hope that helps and look forward to your comments.


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Disclaimer: This article contains general information; before you make any financial or investment decision you should seek professional advice to take into account your individual objectives, financial situation and individual needs. Click for more detail regarding this disclaimer.


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