By March 1, 2010 0 Comments Read More →

Can You Make A Decision? Get the Information you need.

Can You Make A Decision? Get the Information you need.

If you are like most Managers, you are inundated with data and information on a daily basis but not much of it actually helps you make decisions that improve results. And, you simply don't have enough time to sift through it yourself and find the information you need in order to take action.

Getting results depends on your ability to make the right decisions so get the information you need to be successful.One of the biggest problems we all face as managers trying to make good decisions is having too much data because we think that’s a good thing, yet very little of it enables effective decisions. Often, the data you have isn’t even helpful to you and the data isn’t in the form of information that can actually help you. What you need isn’t raw data, it’s information and knowledge.

The next time you look at implementing a process, system, reporting, survey or other means to gather and track data or information, take a step back and ask this basic question: Will this help me make decisions that will improve services and reduce costs? Only when the answer to the question is ‘Yes’ will you end up getting the information you need to make decisions. Here are a few sources:

Staff - Let them know the difference between data, information and knowledge and tell them what you expect from them - information and knowledge they have created through assessment and analysis of the available date that's presented to you in a way that makes sense for the decisions you want to make or that they want you to make. Don't accept 20 pages of data when they should be able to give you a 2 page synopsis with the key information you require.

Suppliers - Instead of getting data from your suppliers through graphs, charts, reports, lists and other source documents, call upon their knowledge and expertise to assess the data and provide real information you can use. Don't let them simply regurgitate material and pass it on to you, get them to add some value. Ask them to identify issues, opportunities and risks and make recommendations based on the information and then tell you how they developed their recommendations.

Systems - Carefully assess the reports they provide and eliminate the ones that only give you data. Find out what analysis, cross-referencing, trending and other comparisons can be provided through the system that will help you make decisions. If it can't do it, use other tools to take the data and massage it into information and knowledge.  If you are procuring a new system, make this one of your top priorities. If working with an existing system, don't accept status quo. Find out how to get what you need, not what's easy for the system to produce.

Successful managers understand how important it is to get the information they need to make decisions without having to wade through the data. They make sure the systems that collect data also provide information, not just reports that regurgitate data. They ensure their staff understand why information is important and are trained to develop it and present it in a way that facilitates decisions and eliminates doubt or uncertainly.

For an interesting explanation about the difference between data, information, knowledge and even wisdom, read http://www.systems-thinking.org/dikw/dikw.htm by Gene Bellinger, Durval Castro and Anthony Mills.

About Michel Theriault

Michel is the founder of Success Fuel for Managers. He is an author, speaker and consultant focusing on topics relevant to Managers and aspiring Managers in businesses of all sizes who want to get results, get attention, and get ahead. He is also a contributor to Forbes and AllBusiness Experts . Michel is available for speaking engagements, training and consulting. Connect with him or send an email.

Posted in: Decision Making

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