We live in a world obsessed with science, preoccupied with predictability and control, and enraptured with quantitative analysis. Economic forecasters crank out precision predictions of economic growth with their massive econometric models. CEOs give to-the-penny guidance to capital markets on next quarter’s predicted earnings. We live by adages like: “Show me the numbers” and truisms […]
|Scooped by Tony Brugman (Bright & Company)|
Reality-check HBR article by Leadership and Strategy expert Roger Martin on 'our' preoccupation with predictability and focus on numbers in decision-making. The blog article has been published in 2010, but is still actual and relevant now. Especially in the world of analytics and Big Data.
"We must stop obsessing about measurement so much that we exclude essential but un-measurable qualities from our understanding of any given situation. We must also consider the possibility that if we can’t measure something, it might be the very most important aspect of the problem on which we’re working."
Martin wrote a more extensive piece in Rotman Management with the title 'Beyond the Numbers', in which he gave three pieces of advice "regarding the qualitative paradigm":
1) Decision making is not only about equations and symbols. We must use all of our senses as we form opinions and make decisions. Numbers can help to describe sensory experience, but they cannot serve as a substitute for it.
2) Never dismiss strong feelings that you have but cannot explain. (Sometimes) your feelings will run ahead of your ability to explain them to another person. But that doesn’t mean that they are wrong.
Rather than dismissing these feelings, integrate them into your quantitative analysis.
3) Cultivate surprise and learn to embrace it. If the course of action you have chosen — i.e. your model — produces an outcome
that you didn’t expect, don’t get upset and throw out the experiment. Instead, learn from it and adjust your model.