Many companies are trying to move from an experience-based decision model, where the executive’s experience would dictate their actions, to one where technology is the first resource used to decide what, when and how to do it.
No wonder there is so much speculation about robots replacing humans. (Which is true, in some way; just not the way it is implied).
The most accurate approach is to use technology to ensure that decision makers do so with greater certainty and speed. Augmented Intelligence is the watchword. The technology to make us better.
Certain skills and disposition is needed. The transition to being a data driven organization is easier than you think. But not as easy as to think that anyone can do it. So let’s cut to the chase. Here are 5 skills and concepts that will surely help you become part of a collaborative team that makes data-driven decisions, or that will enable you to build a team with the necessary skills to do the job correctly.
Sometimes the answer is in front of our eyes. It seems intuition is technology’s antonym, automation and the same as data. And having this point of view comes naturally. There’s nothing more valuable within a company than decisions based on good intuition, the basis of everything.
A company that uses analytics, certainly applies what we all know as the scientific method. And as the base of its theory, creating hypotheses is necessary when executing it.
In their work, Behind Every Decision (essential analytics read) Piyanka Jain and Puneet Sharma, talk about the method. “Hypotheses are generated by human intuition based on the collective intelligence and experience of stakeholders and their understanding of the business and their environment. Data validates the hypotheses to come up with a convergent solution. The strength of the solution then will lie in the best of both — data and hypotheses.”
Intuition is a known characteristic for people who come up with good hypotheses, naturally.
Intuition, as Jain and Sharma put it, require an understanding of the business and the situation’s context (one of the 7 skills that cannot be automated according to HBR). In consequence, stakeholders with the greatest amount of experience, are the ones with the necessary tools to perform this job correctly. An experienced person will marry the problem with its experience to generate hypotheses of the current situation and how it can be solved.
Isn’t that what we are trying to change? And the answer is yes. But remember, we are talking about hypotheses; Not final decisions.
Now, even the most experienced professional could find challenges if he or she knows the company’s ins and outs but all their knowledge is hinged by prejudices. Being wrong should not affect their ego, and trying to understand why, is paramount in order to feed their internal database for future situations. Willingness to change one’s perspective is necessary.
An effective way to know if someone has an open mind is to find out if they have made radical changes throughout their life. For example, that could be leaving the comfort of a job behind, radically changing habits or even pursuing new careers or continuing studies after a certain age. Willingness to change is not exclusive to the young ones. In your early years there is no change, it is only a configuration process.
Critical Thought Process.
The ability to reflect and especially "self-reflection" is key when generating hypotheses. And to achieve it one must possess objectivity. Detach yourself from your current situation, and find the ability to look at things from the outside (even if you are inside). When the problem has to do with performance, it is very difficult to do so. But this will result in critical thinking which in return will benefit the company. And that is invaluable. Flatterers seldom change anything.
How to know if someone possesses a critical thinking process? Easy. Have you accepted a mistake before being called on about it? If your answer is ‘yes’ then you are someone that practices a critical thinking process.
Data introduces changes within organizations when "it belongs to everyone" and not only to a specific department or even worse, to an analyst who issues reports that nobody knows where they are coming from. Data must be in the team’s heart and should be available across the company. Collaborative work is about replacing chains of command, with information. Personal performance, for joint achievement.
How do you know if an employee is prone to collective achievement rather than its own? According to Ben Horowitz, in "The Hard Thing About Hard Things," he or she will often speak in the form of "us" and not "me."
Trust and empowerment
One of the main reasons people quit their jobs is because of lack of trust and autonomy. Decision making within a company must be supported by trust and empowerment. Lacking these key elements would hinder one’s ability to come forward with hypotheses that could be looked as farfetched.
Trust within teams must be one of the main goals, including its members trust. Often, people who are introverted and considered very smart, will tend to be scared to speak up in challenging situations like meetings, for example. Because they are afraid to be wrong or pinpointed, but will then talk behind stakeholders backs where he or she feels safe to do so. This is typically negative for companies that want to make changes based on data.
Usually, employees that barely make their opinions heard, are the ones who will hurt the company the most. While outspoken ones, will benefit the company with useful data to be used as stepping stones. In result, directives will have a precedent as to how he or she will act in a certain situation.
Change is inevitable, and members within a company must acknowledge it, because if they won’t, new and willing members will. This person will be forced to accept it in any company he or she works for.
Change is not about doing things differently to what one’s accustomed to, or turning the page and "resetting". It is about taking advantage of who we are and empowering it with innovative tools. It's about moving from making affirmations to asking questions. To create hypotheses. To do Ab testing. To feel lucky, and increase the chances of success. In essence, it is the same process we already employ, only better.