Vail Valley winter tip: Beware of brain freeze |

Vail Valley winter tip: Beware of brain freeze

Michael Kurz
Vail, CO, Colorado

Here’s a winter tip: No more brain freeze


Vail Valley Partnership bug – Kurz mug


An old friend (six months older, heh, heh) sent me an e-mail yesterday with some sad news. He wrote, “Brenda (fake name) and I were planning on getting married this spring but I think we are going to put it off for a little while. We don’t want to, but there are just too many questions on how to do this and keep everybody happy. I never thought it would be this hard.”

This is sad, I think, for two reasons – putting family feelings ahead of your own happiness (Carl, also a fake name, is a 62-year old widower and had a tough time with all of that for years before and after his wife passed), and over-thinking things until none of your options look feasible.

It reminded me of a phenomenon I first encountered working for a big bank back east, “analysis paralysis.” Bare with me on the technical definition: Analysis paralysis is a describes a situation where the opportunity cost of decision analysis exceeds the benefits that could be gained by enacting some decision.

Of course, “opportunity cost” is something established by project managers who, as we all know, have varying tolerances for risk. So if someone decides they don’t want to make a decision until the risk can be marginalized or eliminated, and the cost of doing that analysis will overwhelm the potential benefits, they may decide not to undertake said analysis.

Or, in a much more likely scenario, they agree to undertake the analysis only to find out mid-stream that too many resources are being spent on reducing the risk and, sunk expenses be damned, it’s not worth continuing. This situation is hard enough to deal with in making personal decisions, as my friend Carl is unfortunately discovering, but in business it can mean stalling innovation in its tracks.

Back at the SOB (“stuffy old bank”) I clearly remember that one such episode resulted in a competitor eating our lunch when it rolled out a new service we were unable to bring to market after nearly a year of research and development. They made millions and all we had to show for our efforts was a stack of reports.

I guess the moral of the story is that even if you’re not fully convinced something new and original is going to achieve all the goals you’ve set for it, there may still be a big advantage to going for it with a few loose ends flagging in the breeze. A mentor I still respect and admire taught me that you should always test well-considered ideas in the market, not on the drawing board.

“You’ll learn lessons faster, gather real-time data from actual customers and make some money while you’re doing it,” he told me.

I’m not suggesting that you innovate fearlessly. I’m suggesting that studying a good idea to death will mean it’s dead. Take a chance. Lead the field. Learn. These times require great business acumen just to maintain the status quo. It takes courage to act on educated guesses and win.

Event update:

• Feb. 3, 8 – 9 a.m.: Partner 101: Benefits Orientation, Vail Valley Partnership offices, Avon.

• Feb 5, 6 – 11 p.m.: Seventh Annual Vail Valley Success Awards Gala, The Lodge at Vail, Vail Village. For tickets contact Vail Valley Partnership Events Coordinator Michelle Kobelan, 970-477-4001 or

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