28 Jan, 2009 | by

On every coin and every bill issued by the United States Treasury you’ll find the words “In God We Trust”.  In recent years that slogan has been extended to say: “In God We Trust – All Others Bring Data”.

This clever twist is especially popular in Lean Six Sigma and Total Quality Management circles, where the data-driven decisions are the holy grail – the means to reduced costs, improved efficiencies, reduced downtime, and driving waste out of processes.

Now it seems neither of these adequately represents how business actually operates.

According to CIO.com research published by Accenture found that nearly half (40%) of major corporate decisions are based on the decision maker’s ‘gut’, not on data.

While this number (40%) surprised me, I was not at all surprised to read that the top reason (61%) these managers rely on their gut is that good data are just not available.

Recently I visited one of these businesses. Like two thirds of survey respondents, these leaders recognize the weaknesses of their data systems and they’d love to fix them.

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2 Jan, 2009 | by

 

I don’t know that I’ve ever met a business person who said, “I don’t care about data. Let me manage solely by intuition.” This isn’t to say that hunches and gut feel are not important (just see Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink” if you doubt that), but that most of us understand that our hunches need to face the hard reality of data.

So it shouldn’t be controversial to say that business leaders strive to be data driven.

In the face of this, it is remarkable that so many business leaders do not have ready access to usable, actionable, real-time data. As one colleague put it to me recently: “Most people have tons of data everywhere you turn, but most of that data isn’t accessible or usable.” (Click here for supporting research by The Aberdeen Group). continue reading »