Finding Simple solutions to complex problems : Avoiding analysis paralysis

Remember the French customs office scene from the movie “From Paris with Love” ?

Travolta is trying to get a bag full of energy drink cans (with parts of his favorite handgun inside those cans) through customs. He creates a big ruckus in the customs office since the customs officer is very adamant that “This will never enter France”.


Travolta, who is playing a special Ops operative in the movie is at loggerheads with this customs officer when Jonathan Meyers, playing a wannabe spy who works at the local US consulate, walks up to the bag, takes out a ” Diplomatic Mail” sticker from his coat pocket and puts that on the bag. Case closed. They walk out with the bag with the customs officer looking.

A simple solution to hours of argument.ย 

Here is a link to the video clip. Diplomatic mail

We need simple, quick and efficient approaches to problem solving

The approach above is the approach that we need in problem solving in advanced analytics as well. Because the crux of the problem is lost in all the jargon and mumbo jumbo….hence leading to solutions that are focused on the mumbo jumbo, not the problem.

For example: We get so intrigued by “ Leveraging a Heuristics to minimize the stochastic multi echelon inventory under Probabilistic uncertainty due to demand that follows a skewed Normal or Poisson Distribution” that we lose our attention from the basic idea –

We are trying to reduce inventory in the network….that is it. That is what we need to work on. Everything else is secondary


We have developed a notion that only complex solutions can provide more accurate solutions

Which is a very dangerous notion to have in today’s age of rapid fire Analytics and the pace of business. Get into analysis paralysis and your solution will be obsolete by the time you have solved the problem ofย  How to leverage a Heuristics to minimize the stochastic multi echelon inventory under Probabilistic uncertainty due to demand that follows a skewed Normal Distribution”.

And how can you move quickly ? By simplifying the problem. And yes, I agree that not every problem will always get solved by relatively less complex methods but believe me, many will be. And it is those that get solved quickly that will provide you the bandwidth to work on the more complex ones.

A Real Life example of analysis paralysis from my own experience

After working on a project in one of my jobs, I asked a “Senior” person on the project to provide feedback about my work. Their feedback was -” I would like to see more depth in the analysis”. So to understand it better, I probed, was the result of the analysis not satisfactory ? The answer was -“No, the result is what we wanted but it looked like the analysis was easy-did not have enough depth”.

Well, the analysis was not easy. But expertise is about making it look easy. And that is how you can thrive in this age of complexity, by finding simplicity. You have to take intricate problems and convert them into simple business problems and then solve them quickly and effectively. Remember that ship repair man story?


Knowing where to tap is the ability to cut through the noise to a level that makes the core problem visible and simple. Solving it from that point onwards is relatively easier.

And on a lighter note

Here is another scene from the movie, totally unrelated to this article….we all have felt this emotion at some point in our career….Right ??? ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜‰

” This is what I like about this job….you get acknowledged….you get compliments”.

Views strictly my own ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s