The ever increasing rate of change in our world, over the past few decades, has resulted in the challenges we face, becoming more and more complex. There is a constant barrage of data and information, through which we need to sort, before we can even begin making any decisions. These constant, accelerating changes, the vast amount of information and the complexities we face every day, has also resulted in much larger interdependencies amongst those impacted by any decision we make. All of these factors have added up and have made decision making far more difficult and complex for leaders.
The ever increasing rate of change in our world, over the past few decades, has resulted in the challenges we face, becoming more and more complex. There is a constant barrage of data and information, through which we need to sort, before we can even begin making any decisions. These constant, accelerating changes, the vast amount of information and the complexities we face every day, has also resulted in much larger interdependencies amongst those impacted by any decision we make. All of these factors have added up and have made decision making far more difficult and complex for leaders. The vast amount of data available and the tools, which can be used to help leaders shift through and analyse the data overwhelm, has seen leaders respond to these new complexities, by placing a far greater focus on analytics and data driven decision making. Leaders are becoming far more dependent on vast amounts of data to make decisions and are losing the confidence to listen to their internal voice of experience. They have turned down the volume on their leadership intuition and instead have learnt to trust the data to guide them, when making decisions. I have observed a definite trend, in all the leaders, at the businesses where I consult. They have all moved toward an increased need for data and tools to analyse this data. Yet, despite, this increased attention, massively increased volume of data and tools to analyse and interpret the data, the decisions made by all these leaders does not always improve. I accept that the rapid rate of change, the complexities we face and the interdependencies amongst those impacted by every decision, makes data and analytical tools crucial to any leader. The challenge is that the leaders I have observed rely completely on the data, to guide them to make decisions. The data and tools for analysing the data are only support mechanisms for any leader and are by no means enough on their own. The data and analytics only support the leader to make any decision and are by no means enough on their own. If any leader is to excel in their role as a leader and to ensure that the decisions they make are valid and in the best interest of all stakeholders. They must ensure that they trust their insight, experience and ability to effectively interpret all the data they receive. The reason many leaders fail to make credible decisions, is because they rely almost exclusively on the data they have analysed and they do not listen to their inner voice of experience, insight and foresight. The second challenge I have observed in the leaders I have consulted with over the past few years, is that they are relying on analytical tools and techniques, which are outdated. If leaders are to begin making credible and effective decisions going forward, I believe that it is time to rethink how we use all the data, which is all around us and that leaders need learn to trust themselves, where they use their innate leadership intuition to analyse and more effectively utilise the data. This is best achieved when leaders commit to flex their decision making muscle, as often as possible and they work to consistently improve their skill and ability to lead and make decisions. Effectively analysing and Utilising Data to Make Decisions It is most certainly time to rethink how we utilise, analyse and interpret the massive amount of data all around us. The analytical tools and techniques employed by most of the leaders I have observed, were designed for a much simpler world. The rapid rate of change and the ever increasing amount of data, which is available, has seen these tools become ineffective and outdated. This means that leaders are making decisions, with flawed information. As they have begun to rely exclusively on the analysed data and have turned down the volume on their own leadership intuition and foresight, they often make ineffectual decisions, which have a negative impact on their businesses. Leaders are also allowing themselves to become overwhelmed with data overload. Understanding How Your Brain Manages Data Your brain is designed to work hard to map what it currently sees or observes, to what it already knows. To do this when it is overwhelmed with a vast amount of data overload, it must distort, ignore and sub optimise data. This system of comparing everything to what you already know was a very effective system forty thousand years ago, when our brains were evolving to their current structure. Back then things were pretty static and everything in our world changed really slowly. Therefore the brains ability to link all the new things it encountered to the old things it had already experienced, if not always accurate, provided our species with a survival advantage. The challenge we face today is that we live in a vastly differently world, than we inhabited forty thousand years ago. Things are changing so rapidly in our world today, the business cycle is getting shorter and shorter, companies are developing products with an expected life cycle of only six months, completely new products, which did not even exist are created every thirty seconds today. This rate of change is not showing signs of slowing down either. The rate of change is accelerating at an ever increasing pace. All of this means that your brain is completely overwhelmed with new data and input information, resulting in your brain kicking into a higher gear, where you distort, ignore and sub-optimise the entire data overload at an ever increasing rate. All the graphs, charts and reports become overwhelming and as such your brain will filter as much of the information as possible. This entire process happens subconsciously and so the more irrelevant data you try to utilise and analyse to make decisions, the more likely it is that your brain will filter the information and the less likely you are to see any problem data areas. The secret to making effective decisions is to limit the data overwhelm and to ensure that all the data you utilise to guide you when making any decisions, is correctly analysed and processed before you even see it. It is also crucial that you turn the volume up on your own leadership intuition and that you once again learn to trust your experience and follow your gut feel. Flex your decision making muscle as often as possible. Become decisive and trust yourself. Too much analysis and data overwhelm, will often result in paralysis and ultimately poor decisions.
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