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Insights, not data or information lead to better strategic decisions.

Insights, not data or information lead to better strategic decisions.


We know that strategy starts with a comprehensive diagnosis of the problem, which will lead to insights. At that point, you have to make a series of important decisions. To start, you have to decide how much data do you need before you can make a decision? If all you did was a search on Google, you could get millions of articles, etc. The problem is you can’t read them all, and you would have to verify the information in each item.

The mindset of most executives is that you need lots of data on whatever the problem is before you can make a decision. That may be true, but what data? Christopher Frank and Paul Magnone wrote a book on “making decisions without drowning in information” that may change your mind about data, information, insights, and decisions.

They state that you need to start your quest for data by asking, “What is the essential question you need to answer to make the decision.”  In other words, you only need data that will help you answer that essential question. Therefore, you should be able to eliminate most of the data. The data or information may be interesting but not relevant. The question will tell you what data you need.

Once you have your information, you can begin triangulating this information. This triangulation will enable you to gain insights that you did not have before, answer the question, and make better decisions.

In summary, start the decision-making process by asking the essential question you have to answer to make the decision. Gather only the data that relates to that question. Compare the data points to get the information you need. Then, by triangulating the relevant information available, you will get the real insights you need to make the decision.  

You may have to rethink your mindset about what data you need and how much data you need to make carefully thought out timely decisions.