Monday, November 18, 2013

Should You Really Trust Your Instinct?

In today's data-driven world, people approach decision-making processes in one of two ways. On one hand, we have data devotees that won't make choices unless their views are backed by statistical evidence. On the other hand, we have the "go with your gut" camp arguing that waiting for data means missed opportunities.

According to Malcolm Gladwell, author of "Blink" whether we choose to rely on instinct or data must depend on our experience level with the subject. What happens when you need to make a fast decision about an unfamiliar topic?

Crowdsourcing

Tapping the power of collective intelligence by using a tool for crowdsourcing decision making can enable smarter, faster decisions, especially when we have no time to collect data. By letting employees give input, you gain access to people whose experiences may be more relevant than yours. 

Instead of making a subjective evaluation of a topic you know nothing about, you can tap into the tacit knowledge of experienced people. By harnessing tools for data visualization, you can then process crowd wisdom faster and transform that wisdom into smarter company decisions.

Is Collective Intelligence Always Reliable?

When you're crowdsourcing decision making, you have to choose the right crowd. For example, if you own a manufacturing business and you're presented with a huge order, then you should ask the people that work hands-on with assembly whether the work can be done quickly. You should also ask people that work with your suppliers to make sure your company could get the materials that you'd need. 

On the other hand, asking the marketing department won't be helpful because marketers won't have tacit knowledge about manufacturing. They may make a subjective evaluation based on their desire to increase revenues, but they won't know instinctively whether the company has the resources to fulfill the order.

The Bottom Line

When you tap experienced people, sometimes less data produces better decisions. Alternatively, instinctive judgments made without experience can lead to disaster. Consider investing in tools that enable targeted crowdsourcing that you can interpret quickly thanks to clear data visualization. You'll have a better shot at catching great opportunities when you trust your gut--the smart way.

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