I have shared a lot about the dangers faced by our students when we are “data-driven” instead of being “data-informed (see The Best Resources Showing Why We Need To Be “Data-Informed” & Not “Data-Driven”).
Today’s Harvard Business Review highlights new research that reinforces that concern.
In When an Educated Guess Beats Data Analysis, researchers Oguz A. Acar and Douglas West share results of their research finding that successful innovative strategies and projects would often not have happened if they were dependent on data to support them.
Instead, as the textbox above indicates, experienced managers were able to use their background, instincts, and simple heuristics to make the right calls. I’m certainly no expert on “heuristics,” but they are simple tools many of us use in our decision-making. The researchers found that “tallying” was the heuristic most used successfully. My understanding of tallying, and I might be wrong, is basically listing the positives and negatives of making a particular decision.
Hard data has its place, but also needs to be kept in its place.