Making Decisions w/o Data

Making a decision with data is easy.

94% of the time people have done this, it has ended badly. Only 6 % of the time it has ended well.

Anybody having trouble figuring out what to do? Yes?

87% of the time people have done this, it has had positive results. 13% have had negative results.

Anyone having problems with this one either? Yes?

(OK, so there are often specifics that make it less easy, but you get the idea...)

The point here is different.

As a leader, you often don't have this kind of data. If you did, the decision would be easy. Why don't you have it? Well, the answers vary - it would cost too much to collect... there aren't good quantitative methods to collect it... it would take too long to collect (i.e., by the time you could collect it, the point where a decision was needed would be past)... There are lots of reasons.

The bottom line...? You don't have all the data you'd like.

What do you do?

You wait. You defer the decision until you have developed the analytical methods to collect the data and accumulated a sufficient sample size to give statistical significance, and then you make a decision - several months after you send a telegram of congratulations to your competitor who just won in the marketplace.


You take the data you have, and make a decision anyway. That's too risky, you say? Well, it's less risky than not making a critical decision. Sure, it's a roll of the dice. Sure, you might get it wrong.

If it was easy, you wouldn't be making the big bucks...



Previous Articles

Three Kinds of Engineers

Only Half Full

Taking a Sit

Making Decisions with Less Data

Temporal nature of success

Being overqualified

Defining what you're building

The real problem


Origins of the name


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The Tarpit Chronicles
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