Thursday, September 18, 2014

Tuning Digital Mindset: A Decisive Mind

A decisive mindset is information-empowered, analytics-oriented, striking the right balance between confidence and humility, logic and creativity. 

At today’s digital new normal –uncertainty, complexity, velocity and ambiguity, the capability to make an effective decision becomes more crucial leadership competency. An effective decision can be defined as an action you take that is logically consistent with the alternative you perceive, the information you get and the preference you have.  Digital Pros, how should you shape such a "Decisive Mindset"?

Information-empowered mindset: The effective information must come from somewhere; it is of course provided by the decision-maker, in the knowledge or expertise which they bring to bear on the problem. Or to put it another way, for decision-making to be effective, the decision-maker must have enough knowledge to make their decisions rich in information and significantly different from the available data. Decisions are based on information and generate information. The amount of data required for a decision, and the amount of information generated by a decision, can both be measured in bits. Thus, a decisive mindset is data enriched and information empowered.

The balance of confidence and humility: Isn't having that confidence that makes a decision maker a leader, or perhaps what makes a decision maker a decision maker. Based on the statement that information provides a sense of confidence, such confidence in decision making is in the outcome and/or the process of making the decision. Despite best efforts all desired outcomes are not achieved. As a result, confidence in the process of making a decision leads people to act even though the outcome that is desired may not happen. As for information providing confidence, it depends on the information. Be cautious about the decision-making pitfalls, besides too much gut-feeling or procrastination,  there is "analysis paralysis." Yes, if all information points in the same direction, confidence is perhaps achieved. But don't we also have a tendency to look for the information that confirms the decision we already want to make and disregard what speaks against it? The information that should make us humble and watchful about the success rate for implementing decisions.

Judgment and decision making are often considered together. The biggest challenge is knowing what you don't know, it is a reasonable moniker for decision making blind spots and biases. Hence, good judgment is a must for good decisions, data analysis and inferences from such data. There is a clear distinction between a good decision and a good outcome. In a world of uncertainty, the decisive mind can, by definition, not control the outcome, however, focus on making good decisions and the best chance for a good outcome is to make a good decision.

Build a decision friendly environment with Analytics culture. It is framed as being a complex of 1) fact-driven leadership, 2) expertise (tools and skills), and 3) processes (linking analytical insight to strategy and operational decision making). A great way to start the conversation and cultivate a decision friendly environment is to listen carefully to the logic you hear when you ask questions like, "What criteria are important to you for making this decision?" and "What would need to know in order to consider doing something different from what you are currently doing? Reframe in a positive manner. For example, maybe you don't try to show and expose "flaws", but rather show ways that decision making can be boosted, to dramatic effect. Or maybe, instead of claiming that you will reveal biases, claim that you can demonstrate how to come to decisions objectively.

The state of “decisive mind”: The question is about the state of mind of an unspecified decision maker at an unspecified time, which could be the time at which the decision is made and resolved to action or some earlier time. More work will be required to investigate the creativity and spontaneity of decision making, how aware are decision makers of the way that information is integrated at an unconscious level and to what extent does this influence their conscious decision making. That state of mind is unobservable to anyone except the decision-maker, and it can be expected to vary with who makes it and when. However, the decision-friendly environment can stimulate or discipline an effective decisive mind.

Some consider decision making is a skill, others think it’s a leadership quality. Either way, it starts with such a “ decisive mindset,“ information-empowered, analytics oriented, and striking the right balance between confidence and humility, logic and creativity; thinking big and thinking small; thinking fast and thinking slow, it’s both the art and science.


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