Understanding the Analysis Paralysis in Workplace Decisions

Do you feel like decisions for the built environment are taking longer than ever? You’re not alone. Over the next few weeks, we’ll explain why.  

ThinkLab has new insights around each of four vertical markets, corporate, education, healthcare, and hospitality, about why “getting to consensus” to move projects forward is taking longer than ever. This new research stems from a Design Hackathon, ThinkLab’s biggest research project of the year. This year, the topic was the future of customer decision making. While fascinating research from Gartner, Forrester, McKinsey and others cover the broader B2B world, ThinkLab data shares unique nuances of decisions specific to OUR world; the built environment.

This first article in a four-part series explores new insights from the corporate sector stemming from six months of research with “end user” decision makers from companies like Kraft Heinz, Oracle, Airbnb, Cisco, Georgia Pacific, and many more.   

According to a recent Think Lab survey 87% of corporate decision makers say that the decision-making process has changed in the past few years. This research explains how AND offers insights about how product and service partners can respond in new and innovative ways.

So why the analysis paralysis in corporate decisions?

In today’s corporate environment, decision-making around workplace has become increasingly complex and fraught with risk. With so much uncertainty and so many variables in play, decisions are taking longer. Here’s why: 

  • Many projects have gotten bigger as delayed decisions mean larger spend; either as consolidation decisions are made, or larger changes are needed in response to work dynamics.  
  • More feedback needed means more stakeholders involved, which means progress is often slower.  
  • Reporting structure changes for the CRE function within corporations as hybrid work is adopted means leaders often don’t come from commercial real estate. One participant in ThinkLab research explained how the CRE function within the corporation started out reporting directly to the CEO, then moved to the CHRO during the pandemic, had one additional stop, and finally now reports to the CFO. That’s a lot of change in a short period of time, and we heard many similar stories like this. This means that internal “champions” are taking more time to “mange up” than ever.

This might seem problematic at first glance, but a closer look reveals that this deliberative approach can yield better long-term results; and new opportunities if our industry is ready to take advantage of it.  

Where there is pain, there’s opportunity. So, where’s the opportunity?

The corporate sector is experiencing an intense level of pain, more so than any other sector, in the internal planning phases. This stems from a few critical issues:

  1. Lack of Information and Benchmarks: Traditional metrics and benchmarks no longer provide sufficient guidance. The rapid changes in work environments, accelerated by the pandemic, have left many organizations without a clear framework for making informed decisions. As many are shifting from input-based metrics (like people per square foot) to output based metrics (like productivity), there’s no one magic pill or formula that is universally applicable.
  1. Need for More Change Management: There is a significant demand for effective change management strategies. This involves managing down—ensuring that employees at all levels are on board with changes—and managing up—making sure that the higher echelons of management understand and support the necessary transformations.
  1. Increased Stakeholder Involvement: According to Forrester, the average B2B decision committee has gone from 2 to as many as 14. ThinkLab industry-specific data echoes this, proving that the average decision committee for the built environment is now DOUBLE what it was just three years ago. While this inclusivity is beneficial, it also slows down the process as more voices and opinions need to be considered. This complexity requires a more structured and clear approach to decision-making.

So, how do we seize this opportunity?

To address these challenges and improve decision-making in corporate spaces, ThinkLab’s hackathon brought together thought leaders across commercial real estate, the A&D community, manufacturers, dealers, developers and more to “hack this challenge” with new ideas in three different cities; Chicago, New York, and Atlanta. Listen in to the full episode to explore some of the ideas that the teams brainstormed together. And if you’re interested in learning more -or hearing quotes directly from the source- we invite you to listen to the full podcast episode on the Design Nerds Anonymous channel wherever you get your podcasts. You’ll hear more on our episodes for education, healthcare, and hospitality in coming weeks. Happy listening!

About the Author: Amanda Schneider, LEED AP, MBA founded ThinkLab, the only research entity wholly focused on the built environment. She’s a respected thought leader featured in prestigious publications including The Huffington Post, Forbes, MIT Sloane Management Review, Interior Design Magazine, and more. She is a sought-after keynote speaker, and the host of the popular podcast, Design Nerds Anonymous. Join in to explore what’s next at thinklab.design/join-in.