In a world that values research, data, and metrics, we sometimes underestimate the amount of time and energy that further analysis might take before we make a valuable strategic decision. In the end, we assume, the time spent researching an issue will help us make a more informed and effective choice about the future. And, for many organizations, this process serves them well, as they create a culture of data-driven decision making and drive forward as a result.
However, our experience with the education industry provides some insight into another danger of analysis. It turns out that we find many schools and colleges use analysis as an informal yet culturally acceptabale means to delaying an important decision. We find that some organizations would rather study something to death rather than commit to making a decision. That gives them the illusion that they are working on an answer and making progress toward a goal. But, we all know that failure to act is the larger issue.
Since research rarely jumps off the page and tells you what to do or where to go, it is important to remember that it is the informed action that matters, not the analysis. Research is intended to give an organization informed choices so that it can make more effective and efficient decisions about strategic direction, resource allocation, or identity choices. Remember not to give way to the idea that just because you are studying a problem you are making progress on it.