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Making big decisions intelligently

By Rob Zagey, Competitive Intelligence Specialist (Product Management) at Pyramid Analytics.

Human beings make decisions every day – some run-of-the-mill, some life-changing. For some, their biggest decision in life may be the career they choose or who they marry. For businesses, big decisions may include when to acquire a competitor or whether to terminate a product range.

Essentially, what this demonstrates is that the decisions we make are probably what define us the most, in that they define how our life turns out. Therefore, it is worth asking how one should go about defining what constitutes a good decision?

Logically, one thinks that a good decision is determined by the outcome, or the result, of the specific choice. However, another school of thought suggests it is defined by the process or journey taken to get there.

This begins to make sense when you take into consideration the fact that, due to factors beyond our control, we cannot always determine the outcome of any decision we make, whether it be personal or business. On the other hand, we can control the process prior to the outcome.

It is here that the science of decision-making comes into play, particularly in business and in the modern, digital world, where access to massive volumes of data and strong analysis tools enable people to have a more granular understanding of all aspects and angles of an issue before making a final decision.

In fact, a McKinsey study (lovallo & Sibony, 2010) of more than 1 000 strategic decisions indicated that the quality of the process undertaken to reach a decision was the factor that most explained the variance in decision-making outcomes. This factor had more than six times the explanatory power of the quantity and detail of analysis performed.

This speaks directly to the need to leverage the best assistance possible in undertaking the process required to make the right strategic business decisions and this should not be a major problem for most companies. After all, asking for help in making better choices is something people have done for a long time. Whether it is by searching for a life coach or a business consultant, seeking external insights and guidance is a common approach.

The only real difference with seeking assistance today is that, with data being the most critical part of the decision-making process, the kinds of input you require will differ. When dealing with the vast amounts of structured and unstructured data that should ultimately be analysed to enable the most effective decision to take, businesses should seek out a trusted partner that can turn this data into genuine intelligence.

This means finding an experienced partner that offers a high-quality decision intelligence platform that can transform the various streams of information into a cohesive whole that provides you with the most comprehensive data possible. This, in turn, allows you to make business decisions safe in the knowledge that the process used in coming to that conclusion is the most robust, effective and reliable it can be.

Therefore, the next time you find yourself under pressure to make a game-changing decision, use the process of decision intelligence to turn vast quantities of vital data into the forward-looking knowledge you require to make the right call.

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