Today we have information at our fingertips that can help our businesses thrive. But as a C-suite executive or sales leader, how well do you use data in your decision-making? The smart balance of data is to know and use your sources of reliable data, but also to approach it with a healthy dose of skepticism and a willingness to question.
Consider using this framework the next time you’re engaged in decision making.
1. What is the key decision to be made? Why is it important to us right now? In a sentence or two, what is the decision and why does it matter? This two-part question is designed to help you in the most direct and simplest way to define the decision and its importance. If there are other sub-decisions involved, this is the opportunity to either remove them from the current scenario or to keep them documented as contingencies.
2. What are the success and failure factors? The next segue is to define the desired outcome. What will indicate success? What will indicate failure? What are the timeframes for accomplishment and evaluation?
3. What data do we have? Your data may come from sources both internal and external. It may originate with systems or people. I have a customer experience colleague who talked about “using both the head and heart” when it comes to running an organization and finding balance with data. Your data is the “head” part, the figures, percentages and statistics. Uncover what data is available, what is missing and to what extent you trust the data.
4. What are the contextual factors outside of the data? The contextual factors are as important as the data itself. This is the “heart” part of the equation. Contextual factors often come from expertise and experience, whether that be your own, an outside strategic consultant, or your team. They are the stories that help you interpret the data in front of you. Ignoring contextual factors and only relying on the figures can send you in the wrong direction.
5. Who has ownership of this decision? With many initiatives and decisions having committees in the mix, it’s important to outline the ultimate ownership of the decision you’re looking to make. Who will decide to move forward or not? Who will decide on the course corrections needed? Who is willing to publicly take that ownership?
6. What is the “Supply Chain Effect?” No organization lives in a vacuum. When a decision is made, there will be impacts across the ecosystem. Some of these impacts are intended, and some are unintended consequences. I called this the Supply Chain Effect. Whether that is a supply chain of relationships, or a supply chain of goods and services, how will it be impacted by the decision path you choose?
7. Course confirmation or correction. The very essence of a decision is to choose one path over another and commit to it. Imperfect action is always better than perfect inaction. There’s always the option to course correct. You’ll often find that parts of the decision were spot on, and parts may need to be adjusted. When you have strong ownership over the course of action, that ownership can also help with decisive course correction.
As a next step, apply this framework to a leadership or sales decision. It will help you move through your decision process with the right balance of data and context. ●
Amy Franko is CEO and LinkedIn Top Sales Voice for Amy Franko Associates