Friday, October 11, 2013

C-Level as Decision ‘Guru’: How Deep Shall You Dig

The abundance of data will produce the strength of 'data glue' and the power of 'decision guru.'

Making data-based decision is becoming mainstream trend for forward-look business executives. However, should business leaders know how to use analytics tools and techniques themselves, instead of relying solely on their in-house analytics team? How much is enough for them to understand from analytics principles to analytics practices? Or to ask in the other way, when will the analytics software enable business leaders to self-service for making effective decisions.

Effective senior executives must be knowledgeable about the importance of analytical insights and must bring about an Analytical thinking culture in their organization. Analytic tools and techniques are going to play an increasingly larger role in business. Knowing their capabilities and how they function is important to leaders as they influence decision making.

It has two elements of general understanding upon analytics: Should business leaders have some understanding of the analytic processes they rely on to make decisions AND how much trust should be put in "black box" software tools. Today's decision makers need a working knowledge of decision support concepts and techniques, especially when looking at probabilistic techniques with their associated strengths and weaknesses. However, the other side of the coin is ensuring the tools function consistent with the analytic approach.

It is more important for senior executives to frame the right questions than hunting for the right answers: In the senior position, stay on strategic focus rather than the tactical details, however, CXOs should be able to count on the answer and understand the scope of the answer and any constraints on validity or accuracy. But that too should be part of the answer. That said, knowing enough about analytic processes provides insight and improves communication in order to make effective decisions.

The Data Quality guiding principle "You get what you inspect, not what you expect." Data integrity and logic integrity can cause huge swings in the analytics. Better data allows leaders at all levels to understand where they stand and what is required as a team to enhance business operations in lieu of remaining status quo. Top management should verify the integrity of the system prior to trusting decisions emanating from it. As cool analytics that is simply wrong have impaired companies who believe they are doing the right thing.

People are usually the weakest link in either data analytics or any sort of project: In many industries, if the information to the CXO level can't be counted on, it won't be the data being fixed. It will be the people at mid management levels. It's a given that having knowledge at any level provides insight but it's a matter of responsibility, and while the CXOs are responsible at the highest level, they hire reports to create, manipulate, and manage data. They should be able to count on these data talents. Knowledge gain and access to data by individuals who are responsible for the success or failure of the goals and objectives of their industry is not only necessary but also strategic imperative. 

Collective Insight is superior: One interpretation of data may differ greatly from another interpretation of that same data. It is always beneficial to communication, interpretation and accuracy of overall results when multiple heads come together to interpret and define data sources and outcomes. The more engaged the business leader in accessing data and understanding where it is extracted and how it is compiled, the better and more understood the results.

Though not every executive needs to become data guru, all senior business leaders, if possible, need to become decision-making gurus, and master on how to make a data-based decision, but never forget common sense, think fast and think slow, in order to reach high-level leadership maturity.


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