Technology's Use in Business Decisions - Enabler or Disabler
The majority of our daily business lives is spent in the pursuit of good decisions. Situations are presented, processes are in play, events are in action, and goals are objectified.
It’s how we create the methods in reaching those decisions and our reactions to new situations that creates the real insights as to technologies value. To do so we need to look at the actual process that is at play and how it gets interjected.
In our daily business lives we already touch the technology that creates filters that mitigate the volume of data to a specific manageable amount
Breaking apart the process
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” — Lao Tzu. Quoted throughout the ages as the inspiration to beginnings, it also reflects the value of a chosen direction. A lesson on how early missteps in the wrong direction create longer paths to success.
“The Paradox of Choice” — Barry Schwartz. First proposed in his book from 2004. At its core is that we have too many choices, too many decisions, too little time to do what is really important. These can be highlighted in our everyday business decision process as;
Figure out your goal or goals. —Based on the concept of ‘what do I want?’ This in the inception of end result thinking, more precisely for business decisions as what is the most successful solution / result?
Evaluate the importance of each goal— this is where the first indications of risk vs reward come into question. Most people give substantial weight to anecdotal evidence, perhaps so much so that it cancels out expert evidence.
Array the options—evaluate how likely each of the options are to meet your goals and mix all relevant factors at play in their assessment.
Pick the winning option—finalize your most successful option based on relevant value to your identified goal or goals.
Modify goals—as decisions effect the course of events, modifications and adaptations occur both on modality as well as objectives.
This process of decision making and Mr. Schwartz’s point of decision paralysis was first conceived by him in 2004. For those of us in business at the time, try to remember what forces of technology were at play during 2004, and how they compare to our 2018, 14 years later. The word exponential might still not be sufficient in describing the explosion of data, awareness of events, methods of communication and sheer diversity of information in our current daily lives, business included.
If you were to think of it as the popular analogy says, ‘like drinking from a firehose’, you would not be far from the truth. Just the basic time to assimilate and act on what data is relevant to the decision process could and does cripple your daily schedule.
Technology to the Rescue
Just as it is the cause of your decision-making deluge so too is technology your potential salvation. Unmitigated data however wanted for its potential, is useless if unfiltered.
Relevancy is the first filter—not all data, even timely data is useful data. In the process of decision making figuring out your goal or goals means determining what data would be useful in qualifying that list.
Keep to the filtered data—defining the data to each goal and force ranking its value will quickly reduce the variants that need to be considered. Keep the constructs, since this is the ‘first step’ if a bad direction or goal is decided at this stage, you may need to step to the second goal selection already outlined.
Roadmap the options by confidence of success—ease of facilitation, roadblocks to their potential processes, and capability to meet timelines. All these high-level considerations happen at this stage to create a percentage score of completion to goal. This will help affirm if the ‘first step’ is correct and worth advancing. This clears the alternatives down to a single ‘best’ option.
Do everything to prove your decision is wrong. — Do not look for affirmation, that process is what got you to this stage. Look now for every reason why what you just did is wrong. This is done by deconstructing the process that got you here, questioning each step and the data used in the decisions and comparing it with what other options it won over. Remember, at the beginning of this process all choices looked equally viable. At this stage you are now comparing your best decision to that of the rest. If you can’t find sufficient cause, (there will always be doubt) it is the winning option.
Budget vs. Forecast vs. Actuals = Belief vs. Trends vs. Reality - As with any goals, financial or not, you enter into the process with a belief of what the outcome will be. Once the efforts are launched the actions are monitored to see if you were correct, and the process trends in the hopeful direction intended. This always leads to the eventual actual results of your efforts. If left untouched its nothing more than the variance of start verses finishes. But for true successful decisions to happen a constant monitoring of goals must be maintained and realignments in the form or changes to processes or to actually modify the goal or goals. Don’t become married to a goal as if it were a picture to be keep exactly as envisioned, instead know that it can change and adapt, still keeping to its purpose.
So, where’s the Tech?
In our daily business lives we already touch the technology that creates filters that mitigate the volume of data to a specific manageable amount. It is also the same technologies that can create modeling and trending to help create the constructs to defining outcomes and confidences of choices. And lastly it is the same services and software’s that monitor the progress of actions to keep you its user informed to changes that need to be decided upon.
Technologies are the tools we use to make the unmanageable productive, not the tyrannical torrent of endless data and communication the drowns us in a sea of indecision and ‘paralysis analysis’. Think of it like water, too much, too little, just right.