The Paralyzed Customer is not like the Customer who Knows Everything. He is very different from The Captive. The Paralyzed Customer is engaged in Analysis, so the process is: Analyze-Paralyze.
The Paralyzed Customer reacts to the Consultant's papers and recommendations, with no biases. The main problem is the endless loop of analysis in order to ensure no error included in the Consultant's product. No error is 100% error free product (not even the slightest error).
For example, if the product is a Request For Proposals (RFP), the Paralyzed Customer will initiate an endless evaluation process, even if the Consultant built the RFP together with the best customer's employees.
In a large number of long meetings, he will investigate the RFP. The following questions are only examples:
Do the requirements conform to the Business Strategy?
Are the requirements in accord with the IT Strategy, Policy etc.?
What are the expected costs for the implementation in one year?
What are the expected costs for the implementation in 5 years, ten years, twenty years?
You can be sure that he will ask any question, you never think of and ask for detailed answers.
After completing this tedious process he will give the corrected RFP to the enterprise's lawyers and administrator. They should confirm the RFP or ask for additional corrections.
The RFP is submitted 2 or 3 years after it was written. Sometimes it is too late because of major changes and sometimes the RFP is less adequate than it was when it was released by the Consultant.
The description in the RFP example, depict the problem of the Paralyzed Analyzer: If a Short Term or immediate action is required it will not be taken. In extreme Paralyzed Analyzer cases, no action will be taken at all after a long analysis process.
I will demonstrate the problem by using a technology illustration located in the beginning of this post.
At the time of defining the selection criteria the Leading Products developed Capability A. This Capability has significant Business Value for the customer. Other products lack this capability. Probably the difference is because vendors developing Leading products invest more than others in R&D.
Vendors learn from their competitors, so after a year, they also developed Capability A. Meanwhile, the Leading Vendors developed another significant capability: Capability B.
The damage caused by Paralyzed-Analysis is multi fold:
1. For two years he did not select and implement a product, so he did not utilize Capability A and for one year he did not utilize Capability B (in case of selecting Leading Product) or he did not utilize Capability A for one year (if he would select non-leading product, which may be cheaper to purchase).
2. After two years he will not be able to distinguish between Leading products and other products, because his criteria will focus on Capability A and Ignore Capability B. After two years Capability A will be included in all candidate products. The result will be selection process assigning higher than planned weight to Cost and lower weight than planned to Quality.
3. The long analysis is costly.
The Consultant will face a problem if a quick decision and implementation is required.
His challenges are identifying states requiring quick decisions and actions and leading the Paralyzed Customer towards a shorter process than he used to.