Throughout the course of your career, no matter what industry you work in, you are likely to find yourself in a situation where you must make an important decision. How will you make the decision? Will you trust your gut? Will you make your decision based off of how you “feel”? We have all been in those discussions that border on arguments about decisions that need to be made where ultimately one or both parties will just start saying, “I really feel that we should …” It is sometimes hard to hitch my wagon to a decision that someone is making simply because they feel like it is the right decision. As people we have a lot of experience in life and tend to make many decisions off of isolated feelings, experiences, or our gut. While I don’t want to downplay that sometimes trusting our gut is the right thing to do, it doesn’t always work in the workplace because other stakeholders may not have that same gut feeling we do.
Enter Data Driven Decision Making (DDDM). This is the process of approaching difficult decisions in business from the standpoint of “what can I learn from the data to help me make a decision?” In our technological times, essentially all industries are being managed online, in databases. It has opened up the ability for stakeholders in companies to do a lot more to learn about their customers. I am learning in my career that when I approach a difficult decision prepared with some data that helps prove that my decision or recommendation is a good one, other stakeholders are more easily able to hitch their wagon to my decision. It is hard to argue that you just feel like something is right or wrong when another person has data to prove it is right or wrong.
For the scope of this post, I won’t go into all of the pitfalls that exist in over-trusting your data. I do recollect an episode of the television show “The Office” where Michael Scott drove his car directly into a lake because he trusted his GPS to a fault. In this case, he was given bad data, and never stopped to apply any common sense to the data he had, and let it drive him into danger. Similarly, when we gather data to make decisions, we should seek to understand the data and how it is collected. Most software vendors offer up reporting on critical points of data in an effort to help you be more informed. If you can’t find the data you need then you should consider asking your software vendor if there is a way to get that data, or consider another vendor that can get you the reporting you need. This is definitely a time when data is king and those who are able to get the data and understand it are able to shine at the decision making table.