I used to use my gut all the time. Hiring decisions, firing decisions, policy decisions, which projects should get funded, they were all, basically, gut decisions. I felt comfortable with my gut. We had a good relationship.
The move from gut- to big data-based decision-making
A few years ago I was told my gut was lying to me. We needed to break up. I couldn't trust my gut.
After spending so many years with my gut, I can tell you this was hard to do. I trusted my gut. I relied on my gut.
But we're now in a time when we're not supposed to use our guts anymore. We're supposed to make evidence-based decisions, and move forward. Now, being able to make a quick decision is no longer valuable. We want to make decisions that are "right" based on the data.
Are big-data based decision really better?
But, are we making better decisions? Are you making better hires? Do your policies have the impact you want?
I think we're getting "data-managed" to death.
Big data in baseball
Baseball is the king of metrics.
I love baseball. I love baseball because so many decisions are based on what the analytics are saying about each and every situation.
But, here's the big difference. At the height of the action, metrics are thrown out the window, and one person makes a split-millisecond decision. A gut decision.
A runner on second, a ball hit to right field... the third base coach now has a decision to make. Do I send the runner home or hold him up?
The coach doesn't have time to look at the data: How fast is the runner? How strong is the right fielders arm? What's the weather like? How hard was the ball hit? What's the score? How many outs? What inning is it? etc., etc., etc.
It comes down to a gut decision by an experienced coach, in the heat of the moment, in a split second. Data be damned. That gut decision will win or lose the game.
Gut-based decision making can make or break your business
Those same gut feelings will make or break your business.
I'm not saying data doesn't impact these quick decisions, it does. Your experience does. Your education does. Your DNA does. It all counts. But, so does your gut.
The best leaders know when to move fast, when to trust their guts and when to slow down and gather more data.
Your gut isn't always bad. Don't let data make you believe that. Your gut is still important and critical to make some of the most important business decisions you'll ever make. Using your gut in business shouldn't have a negative connotation to it.
Get back to gut-based decision making
It's time we start working on getting comfortable using our guts again. Moving fast. Trusting that what we feel is best is going to be best. Not being frozen in indecision, waiting for more data.
The problem too many of us are running into is that not using our gut is putting us in a position to make worse decisions because we aren't willing to move forward without more data. But at that point, too often, the decision makes itself, because we took too long.
I don't know about you, but that's not how I want my business to run.
Instead, we should trust our guts, make timely decisions, then look at the results, use big data to confirm our decisions and close the loop.
It's time we punch big data back in the gut!