Paralysis by Analysis?

I really enjoyed the recent BBC Four documentary on the life and music of Quincy Jones, the legendary music producer who started out as a jazz trumpeter but subsequently worked with everyone from Ray Charles, to Frank Sinatra, to Michael Jackson to New Order.

When working with Michael Jackson on the Thriller album, which is still the best selling album of all time, he talked about how they only had 8 weeks to complete it, which is a miniscule timeframe by comparison with most albums. This deadline was due to the record label pressure based on the huge success of Billie Jean single. This meant that they had no choice but to deliver, so they didn’t suffer from, as he puts it, "Paralysis by Analysis".

As someone who has spent a lot of time in music studios over the years, I’m very familiar with the onset of obsessiveness that can kick in at times when working on a track, trying to find the perfect snare drum sound or endlessly restructuring the arrangement. However the best tracks tend to happen quickly without too much fiddling. If you have to try too hard, it seldom works out well.

I think this translates to so many organisations and activities that suffer from analysis paralysis most of the time. So what I take away from this example is to set an immovable deadline, and tell everyone about it so there is no chance of asking for more time at the last a minute. And then build the buzz, the momentum, and pull out all the stops to deliver something as good as you possibly can.


  1. i watched the show. great tv. very rare these days imo. of course, like most, i knew accomp[lished a lot, but i wasnt expecting him to be that prolific! no paralysis from the big “Q”

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