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Ugly Research: Data is easy, Deciding is hard

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Tracy Allison Altman over at Ugly Research has a great new  white paper – Data is easy: Deciding is hard – in which she quotes me (thanks Tracy). It’s a great paper and makes what I think is the critical point – that you don’t need a data culture but a decision culture. And I would add that you need this at every level – strategic, tactical and operational. The paper has some great advice and I would add a couple of additional thoughts:

For decisions you make often – some tactical and all operational decisions for instance – build a decision model so you know how you think you are going to/should make the decision moving forward. Here at Decision Management Solutions we use the new Decision Model and Notation (DMN) Standard and our modeling software, DecisionsFirst Modeler for this.

As Tracy points out some of  this decision-making is going to be driven by expertise or policy, some by the data. Understand this early and fit analytic and information, requirements into this model. This will help show people how the data and analytics being delivered fit into the best practice or required decision-making approach. One of the great things about the DMN modeling notation is that it supports this kind of mix and match.

And remember, just because something is a piece of actionable insight does not mean its going to be acted on. “Actionable” is necessary but not sufficient. Showing how your actionable insight is part of a decision that must be made makes it much more likely that it will, in fact, be acted on!

As Tracy points out, only once you understand the decisions you are trying to make should you start working with your shiny data and analytic technology.

Here are some more thoughts on how decision modeling builds a data-driven culture. I also previously interviewed Tracy as part of our Analytic Practitioners Speak series.

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