Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Data-Driven Organizations are a Bad Idea

Consider: it really takes only a few facts to make a decision, but it takes a wealth of insight to know what the relevant facts are for the decision.

In a data-driven company, every single analysis generates facts, and every single one of those facts indicates a possible decision. In a data-driven organization people really have very little guidance to make decisions. Even worse, the uncertainty that all the possible decisions that could be made drives people to ask for more analysis. More analysis means more facts generated which means more possible decisions suggested, which means an even greater confusion and the problem gets worse. The end result is that decisions get made for really very arbitrary reasons, usually the last fact someone say before they were forced to decide. I think it's better to rely on intuition and experience that to try to make sense out of a sea of random, contradictory facts.

What works is to have a decision-driven organization. Understand what kind of decisions the organization needs to make, understand the basis on which these decisions should be made and be explicit about it, and then once that blueprint for decision-making has been made then build the information needed for the decision.

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