The Ideology Divide Between Intuition and Fact-based Decisions

July 19, 2011
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In the USA we witness an ideology divide between its two political parties – the Republicans and Democrats. I will not risk alienating any readers by taking sides. The point I want to make is that when competing ideologies are present, the result can be gridlock with no forward action.

In the USA we witness an ideology divide between its two political parties – the Republicans and Democrats. I will not risk alienating any readers by taking sides. The point I want to make is that when competing ideologies are present, the result can be gridlock with no forward action. My belief is there is currently an ideology divide between an organization’s advocates of applying analytics and those who believe that relying on a sixth sense, gut feel, and intuition is the way to best make decisions.

What is ideology? Wikipedia defines it as “a set of ideas that constitutes one’s goals, expectations, and actions. … The main purpose behind an ideology is to offer either change in society, or adherence to a set of ideals where conformity already exists, through a normative thought process.”

What caught my attention in this definition is an ideology’s “purpose to offer change.” But what happens when two or more ideologies compete? One possibility is that one ideology wins domination over the others. Another is gridlock – debate but no action, progress, or improvement.

In the book Analytics at Work: Smarter Decisions, Better Actions co-author Jeanne G. Harris of Accenture notes that forty percent of important decisions are not based on facts but rather on intuition, experience, and anecdotal evidence. An immediate impression is this so sad. However, one ideology can take the position that perhaps intuition and experience is reliable for decisions – if the decision-maker has exceptional intuition and experience. But that is a pre-requisite. What if it doesn’t sufficiently exist? Just look at the 2008 global economic meltdown. There were many smart minds managing the global economy. And look at what happened. Relying on intuition runs the risk of confirmation bias – believing in an answer before viewing the facts – and influences of self-interests and politics.

The good news is the ideological divide is narrowing in business, commerce and local public sector activities. Analytics is becoming mainstream. The world is now too complex and the margin for error to slim to not rely on analysis and fact-based information.