If I told you there were 7 Steps To Making Better Decisions you’d say “It has to be more complicated.” So don’t take my advice, listen to Gary Smith of the consulting firm Doyen who wrote down all seven for Information Week. He consults on project management and offers these tips on an analytics methodology.
It would be wrong to give away all the answers here (that’s why we hyperlink to the original content) but I’m a big fan of the first three steps. People tend to see what they LOOK for – not the less obvious details. Often, they start with statements instead of questions – another way analytics or business intelligence projects can be effective in finding hidden, unpredictable factors.
Step One “Define The Problem” sounds like a variation of the Toyota “Five Why” exercise or the practice of asking “Why” at least three times to dig deeply into identifying past reasons for a particular decision, action or situation. Pursuing the underlying causes will lead you to the true root of a problem.
“Identify Relevant Factors” is Step Two – a similar exercise.
Step Three “Focus on Data Collection and Preparation” is where BI and analytics of existing data can simplify things by taking tremendous amounts of information from various sources and combining it in a single, multi-dimensional picture. Sometimes the input is financial, operational, managerial and research – different details called by different names by different people but they are the exact same facts.
An eighth step – my own contribution – is to think like a doctor. Look for the most obvious signs and symptoms of a problem and start by eliminating the most unlikely or unrelated issues.
Instead of chasing what the problem ISN’T you can start ruling out problems or conditions that might detract from the broader or more important facts. Don’t be distracted on your way to the answers.
Spotfire Blogging Team
Image Credit: Microsoft Office Clip Art