Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Analysis for the decision maker

I'm always amazed by the quantities of analysis and the collection of data that goes nowhere. Managers and customers all want to get in on the data revolution --- measure this; collect that; report this other thing.

I ask: to what end? If I give you the numbers, what are you going to do with them? Is there a decision you can make because you have the data? And, is the decision material to project objectives?

I am always astonished at the "deer in the headlights" reaction: No answer in many cases. Just data for data's sake. Nonsense. That's not lean, and it's not smart.

If you can't go to a decision maker and say: "This will make a difference", then what's the point?

On the other hand:
A good and talented analyst, paired with a decision maker who knows good input when it's presented, is a formidable pair. Hard to beat.

About that bias:
Ooops, what if the analyst has an agenda? Can the decision maker be duped? And, what if the decision maker has an agenda? Will the analyst go along?

That, ladies and gentleman is corruption. Malcom Gladwell recently opined about what powers a system that works well in spite of relatively few sheriffs (translation: lean governance):
  • Fair to all: the little guy can get a fair hearing. In project terms, this often means either open door policies, flat organizations, or extraordinary transparency in decision making
  • Respectful of opinion: the messenger is safe; and, the message is listened to; and the message could have real leverage in a decision, even from the little guy
  • Trustworthy: the rules don't change to fit the circumstances. In statistical speak: stationary in time and place.

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