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    Not What Or Why, But How To Choose?


    onam.priyadarshi13h

    The most essential facet of being a manager, be it in any walk of life, is for sure the one skill that differentiates him/her from anybody else and that is: Decision-making. It is most definitely the power, rather the ability of a person to take prudent, relevant and effective decisions that set him/her a notch ahead in the race that the corporate run comprises. Thus, we not only need to know what or why, but how to make decisions, how to make the choices that we make, to be able to foresee what lies in store having made those choices and to be positive that the alternatives have an opportunity cost that is less likely to exceed the benefits from the plan A that we choose.

    The mind always works on matter, matter that is assimilated, accumulated, observed, absorbed and created. This matter more often than not comprises facts and figures that we come across over a period of time and it is this that formulates our opinions on issues and circumstances and should guide us in choosing the way forward. One’s experiences are a key to learning and avoid mistakes, but life is all about new challenges and it isn’t necessary that one’s challenge will be the other’s or that one’s solution will work out for the other, problems, solutions and hence decisions, vary, with time and tide, to each his own.

     

    Decision-making is a crucial skill for treading on the path to success. It is imperative thus that one take informed decisions, rather than impulsive or intuitive ones. This itself can be illustrated by the use of numerical figures in terms of probability of a decision being a thumbs-up or a downer based on whether it is based on gut-feeling or not, where a gutsy decision has a fair and square half chance of hitting the bulls-eye, an informed, data driven decision based on historical data can warrant a chance much greater than that of being a winner.

     

    Data analytics, a field of research, an active component of all industrial data processing and reporting, has become the buzz-word in the world of business. It is owing to the stress on hard core historical data projection and information related to past trends, their relevance, their cyclical patterns, any relational change between parameters and many other such ways of engineering data to deduce important facts and identify occurrences, areas of improvement, effect of factors and even have a decent foresight by extrapolating trends, assuming at times ceteris paribus. It is the mere fact that this subject is being undertaken as a specialization in some of the newer and premiere business schools in the country that relays its importance, its applicability and the extent to which it can play a role in making key decisions easier for every managerial level all courtesy the heavy data dependency, real data building up virtual images only for a clearer picture albeit a surer one.

     

    While the success of data driven decision making can itself be proved through data, its wonder lies in the fact that one can also prove the risk related to intuition based choices in a data driven manner.

     

    There is a reason the rational mind which processes such data is called analytical. It overcomes the biases of the emotional mind and loosens the shackles of a narrow-minded attitude towards things or the safe zone preference based on conservative beliefs, prevalent practices and recency effect of happenings. Strong and concrete data has the power to shake people out of the herd mentality and of Utopian expectations based on rosy optimism rather than hard-hitting realism. Mostly intuitive decisions tend to land people in false situations, because they are taken either in haste or due to ignorance. Either way, it makes waste due to the hurry in which it is taken without any deliberation or any heed to the consequence, totally reliant on luck for the outcome, well if good, expected if bad. In case of ignorance, the risk is even higher as the stakeholder in question very conveniently underestimates the potential risk and can in fact land in a whole lot of trouble, based on the decision ending up seeming gullible, irrational and more often than not irresponsible and unreliable.

     

    Thus we can say that data plays a key role, be it that of the number of germs that a disinfectant can kill or that of the amount of disposable income in the economy that drives consumption, be it the household consumer or the government bodies, be it the decision of keeping yourself healthy or the nation, it is data alone that can be relied upon for a less blurred vision of the future through the spectacles of the past. If such decisions were to be made on the flip of a coin, only probability data related to the outcomes of a coin flip can tell us which side we would be losing, the health of the nation or the its people, either of which states the vulnerability of intuition as a tool for making choices against rationality which is but obvious the only choice to make when deciding, anything, big or small, for the better and not remotely for the worse.

     

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    Nicely written article to impress upon the need of the hour to make an informed decision in the day to day activities. The use of data analytic to make decisions as a manager has increased manifolds in the recent past and it is growing at a much faster rate than anticipated.
    I really liked the bandwidth showcased in the article regarding the usage of data analytic in the daily decisions as starting from the amount of germs killed by disinfectant and reaching to the level of national economy. 
    But a concern comes to the mind that how to draw a line that when a situation arises to make a decision purely based on data or go by the gut feeling based on prior experiences. How can data analytic help to draw that line?

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    Very well written article.Data driven decision making is in fact taking more prominence with the advent of big data, decision making lies across a broad spectrum, at one end are the operational decisions which are short term oriented and structured, at the other end lies the strategic decisions. Which are of importance to management and businesses, these tend to be complex and unstructured and accompanying larger risks,it will be interesting to know how data driven decision making would help with strategic decisions.


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    Thank you for your feedback Sandeep, Pranjal and Srikanth.

    Pranjal, I am glad you appreciate the scope of this article and you have a very valid concern there which is about the clear demarcation between deciding based on data and gut feeling respectively, well, the idea is to use data as far as possible in all decisions that one takes, to the extent available and can be processed. One should resort to intuition based decisions only when there is no data available to rely upon or the decision needs to be taken immediately. Also there are times when data at hand creates conflict, for example, there are two candidates for selection with the same credentials, the same scores on the gd and pi however you think based on your experience that one is a culture fit in the organization, thats when you take a gut based decision and select the person. Objective decisions should almost always be data driven, its subjectivity in decisions that bring about the mind over matter conflict.

    Gradually data analytics is bringing about lots of ways in which they can be resolved for example in our example above nowadays people carry out personality profiles prior to conducting interviews and they map the existent employee base to see how many of the current productive employees are of the same type and if lets say the candidate matches that personality type then selecting that candidate can be a data driven way to decide based on analytics.

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    Thanks for answering the concern in such a coherent manner. I do agree that the example which you have cited above does have a real significance in the recruitment and selection processes. Being myself as an HR professional, I have seen results of great use by applying the concepts of data analytic.

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    Nicely written article. The use of data analytics and decision making is presented with simple yet effective examples, thus stressing on the importance of the same. The shifting of the focus from 'What' and 'Why' to the 'How' of decisions is appreciable and brings forth some very interesting thoughts.


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    Thumbs up, especially for your point on keeping a nation healthy through analytics! We have included the same in a model that we proposed for rural health insurance for one of the leading companies, which was also vindicated by its CMD! The vast amount of data at disposal through the medical history of patients who come for OPD treatments, can be leveraged to come out with customized insurance plans for individuals, villages, towns, districts, states etc, once we establish the pattern of diseases through analytics!  Well written article!


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