As our society and economy has evolved, we’ve become accustomed to having an abundance of options in just about any decision we must make. However, it’s the excessive alternatives we are constantly confronted with that often complicate and delay decision making in our personal and professional lives. For example, I went out to dinner the other night and wanted to have a glass of wine with my meal. The waiter handed me a book an inch and a half thick containing their vast array of wine selections. Instead of wading through the pages, I quickly came up with a set of criteria to help me focus and determine my selection.
To start, white and rosé wines were immediately eliminated. I only drink white wine if I’m eating fish. Since I knew that I wasn’t going to order fish, it was simple for me to eliminate the whites (I ordered a pasta appetizer and beef entrée in case anyone is interested). Rosé isn’t really my thing unless I’m at an outdoor party in the summer and it’s mixed with fruit (à la homemade sangria).
I then narrowed my selection according to the type of taste & texture I wanted to experience on this particular night, I was in the mood for a smooth, even balanced, medium bodied, but not too fruity taste. This criterion narrowed my quest to the great varietals of Pinot Noir and Chianti. Because I had ordered a pasta based appetizer, my search led me to select a glass of Chianti (this also went great with the wood fired Tuscan style bread and homemade olive oil).
Finally, I assessed the value and cost (this is often where most people start every decision, particularly in business). I selected a $13 glass which was about middle of the road for the Chianti price point range. Boom! I just solved my wine selection problem in less than a minute using simple qualitative analytics and all I had to do was establish a core set of criteria that fit my personal needs.
Businesses should approach decision making in a similar fashion. By establishing a list of factors that matter to your organization today and that will also matter in the future, it will allow you to differentiate yourself amongst competitors and result in continuous growth. Begin collecting data surrounding these factors, constantly evaluate the outcomes of your decisions and modify/tweak your approaches. Let’s put this into some context.
Say for instance you’re an executive at a multinational manufacturer and part of your strategy is to strive for continual efficiency through operations. You may decide to invest in multiple Business Intelligence (BI) tools in order to meet this strategic initiative. The question then becomes who, where, and how should your dollars be invested to maximize the greatest return? Again, an abundance of alternatives exist.
In order to solve this problem, the organization may decide to embark on creating a BI roadmap and assess factors that will determine the analytical capabilities of the current operation and where they should go in the future. For instance, the manufacturer may want to assess the availability/timeliness of information. This factor will determine if the information is delivered to the users when required in order to do an effective job. Drilling down further, you may then assess the information’s relevancy. Does what I receive even matter in the context of my operating unit? If not, why would I continue to receive such information and what solutions are out there for me to resolve this issue would be typical follow up questions upon further evaluation. Asking simple yes/no questions such as “does the current technology allow me to view information in real-time?” can be just as insightful, particular for a manufacturing production facility.
Decision-making doesn’t have to be challenging or scary. If you take the time to set up a repeatable model, subject to regular evaluation and refinement, which fits your needs you can now begin to solve, simple (i.e. what am I going to eat for dinner tonight?) or complex (i.e. what new markets should we be competing in during the next 1, 3, or 5 years?) issues with greater speed and accuracy.
So, now that you’ve decided that analytical decision making is vital to your personal and professional success, let’s toast over a glass of wine (red preferably)!
Author: Gabe Tribuiani