Seven Questions That Make Analytics Smarter

November 2, 2010
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In a recent discussion at Boston’s Knowledge Management Forum, KM Forum President Larry Chait and Industry Consultant Jack Vinson shared a series of questions that should be a starting point for improving both decision-making and results.  Both recognize that even the best analytics or business intelligence system can be affected by organizational culture, personalities and other external factors.

In a recent discussion at Boston’s Knowledge Management Forum, KM Forum President Larry Chait and Industry Consultant Jack Vinson shared a series of questions that should be a starting point for improving both decision-making and results.  Both recognize that even the best analytics or business intelligence system can be affected by organizational culture, personalities and other external factors. These are just some of the intangibles that sway  humans as they make decisions.

Some of these initial questions were inspired by the new book, “Buy In: Saving Your Good Idea From Getting Shot Down” by famed marketing professor John Kotter. Others were inspired by the Theory of Constraints idea that by limiting options and agreeing early on paths toward solutions, results can exceed initial expectations. That can produce breakthrough results. Chait (who came up with the questions) and Vinson collaborated to show how assumptions, hierarchy and direct observations have led to deadly decisions — from the dozens of cascading errors that led to the Titanic cruise ship sinking to more minor daily crises.  To prevent such occurrences, individuals and teams should review these questions:

1. What are the inherent biases in identifying the problem as a problem?

2. Can we examine the true motives of everyone involved to insure alignment?

3. Is there an objective truth in this situation that everyone agrees upon?

4. Is there someone I trust to provide an opposing viewpoint and critique?

5. What information would change the process, result or action steps?

6. Can I sleep on it? Or does this truly require immediate action?

7. Are there repercussions for inaction that might worsen the problem/situation?

Armed with the answers to these questions any decision-making is sure to be clearer and more understandable as the project moves ahead.  Equipped with the data available from BI and real-time analytics you can have better evidence for making informed choices.  More details can be found at Knowledge Jolt with Jack.

For more on the Knowledge Management Forum, visit http://kmforum.org/.  The group meets in the Boston-area to discuss the impact of technology, collaboration and networking on organizations ranging  from non-profit groups to large corporations.

David Wallace
Spotfire Blogging Team

Image Credit: Microsoft Office Clip Art