Tuesday, July 10, 2007

7. Make your decisions on facts! Intuition is better than no information at all, but facts are always best.

In recent years there has been a great deal of hype for intuition. Hopefully, most of the hype is the result of misunderstandings. I don’t want to believe that intelligent people would encourage us to make decisions in a “Blink” instead of analyzing the facts. In fact, while some people promote the value of common sense I can’t help but think that even if we may all have common sense, there sure isn’t much about common sense that we have in common! I don’t know how many times I have heard people arguing vastly different points of view and all base their arguments on common sense! Give me a good old fashioned analysis of the data any old day!

It is amazing that so many companies can be so successful despite the fact that many important decisions are based on the nice warm feeling some executive has in their tummy. This in itself must be evidence that the practice of intuition based management is much more widespread than anyone wants to admit. In a world where everyone is guessing, the one who guesses a little better is the winner!

I am not opposed to making an educated guess as a last resort to fill in the gaps of good analysis. I am against basing analysis primarily on intuition and acting as though these guesses and assumptions are facts! Substituting facts with intuition should always be an exception and these exceptions should be documented and frequently re-evaluated since they are likely to represent major risks in the analysis. Over time, the “intuited” facts can either be confirmed by trail and error or replaced by facts. All too often these intuited facts become “truths” and no one remembers the origin of the information.

Jeffery Pfeffer and Robert Sutton’s book “Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths & Total Nonsense” is the best thing I have read on the subject of “evidence-based” management. If this book doesn’t appeal to your common sense then you might want to take your common sense in for an overhaul!