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A Former CIA Executive’s Advice On How To Make Hard Decisions | The future of business
05.28.15 | Fast Company | BY STEPHANIE VOZZA.
A Former CIA Executive’s Advice On How To Make Hard Decisions
A five-step decision-making process from a man who spent 25 years making life-and-death decisions.
(1) Question
(2) Drivers
(3) Metrics
(4) Data
(5) What's Missing/Blind Spots

1. FIND THE REAL QUESTION
Questions are NOT self-evident, says Mudd. Focusing on better questions up front yields better answers later.
“Good questions are hard to come up with,” he says. Delay data gathering and the conclusions.... think about exactly what it is we want to know..... Start with what you’re trying to accomplish and work your way back, instead of moving forward and making conclusions. The right question provides a decision advantage to the person at the head of the table.

2. IDENTIFY YOUR “DRIVERS”
Break down complex questions into characteristics or “drivers.” This approach gives you a way to manage data.
For example, sort data on Al Qaeda into information baskets that included money, recruits, leadership, communications, training, and access to weapons. When information flows in, rather than adding it to one unmanageable pile, sorting through it periodically, and offering a recitation of what appears to be relevant from the most recent stuff you’ve seen, file each bit into one of your baskets. Limit your drivers to 10.

3. DECIDE ON YOUR METRICS
Identify the metrics you’ll use to measure how the problem and solution are evolving over time.
What are the right metrics?
What are the new information sources and metrics?
Compare your thought process to the training process of an Olympic sprinter who measures success in hundredths of a second. “If we don’t, the analysis we provide will suffer the same fate as a sprinter who thinks he’s great but has never owned a stopwatch: he enters an elite competition, and reality intervenes,” Metrics provide a “mind mirror”–a system for judging your decisions. It provides a foundation for coming back to the table and assessing the process for success.

4. COLLECT THE DATA
Once you’ve built the framework that will help you make the hard decision, it’s time to gather the data. Overcome data overload by plugging data into their driver categories and excising anything that doesn’t fit. “Too much data might provide a false sense of security, and it doesn’t necessarily lead to clearer analytic decision making,”

Avoud intuition. It’s dangerous. Aggressively question the validity of your data. Once you have your data sorted, give yourself a grade that represents your confidence in assessing your question.

5. LOOK FOR WHAT’S MISSING
Complex analysis isn’t easy. Assume that the process is flawed and check for gaps and errors. Three common stumbling blocks are:

Availability bias: The instinct to rely on what you know or what has been most recently in the news.
Halo effect: When you write off the negative characteristics because you’re mesmerized by the positive attributes.
Intuitive versus analytic methodologies: when you go with your gut. Relying on intuition is dangerous.

Mudd says making complex decisions is hard work. “It’s a lot of fun to be an expert who bases their ideas on history and not a lot of fun to be an analyst who must always be assessing potential scenarios,” he says. “Every time you go into a problem, and before you rip into data, ask yourself, ‘Am I sure where I’m heading?’”
asking_the_right_questions  availability_bias  biases  decision_making  false_sense_of_security  gut_feelings  halo_effects  hard_choices  intuition  intelligence_analysts  life-and-death  metrics  Philip_Mudd  problem_definition  organizing_data  problem_framing  sorting  thinking_backwards 
october 2017 by jerryking
Dancing with Disruption - Mike Lipkin
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By Mike Lipkin
#1. Become someone who knows.....a secret is a formula or knowledge that is only known to a few. If you own a secret, you have the power to share it so you can turn the few into the many. Secrets are everywhere – hiding in plain sight. The difference between someone who knows and someone who doesn’t is the willingness to do the work, find the information, talk to the people and formulate one’s strategy. Be a source of joy and not a source of stress!! Disruption begins long before.....Mastering other people's emotions....Add in a way that thrills and delights others!! Prospective of Personal Mastery....industry connection + internal influence.
# 2. Have an audacious ambition. If you want to be a disruptor, you can be humble, but you can’t be modest. You have to dream big....dream bigger than anything that gets in its way.
#3. Be simultaneously analytical and creative. There may be a gap in the market, but is there a market in the gap? ...Disruption demands left and right brain firing together. Your intuition may alert you to the opportunity but it’s your intellect that builds your business case. That’s why you need wingmen or women to complement your capacity. Fly social not solo.
#4. Be prolific. The more you lose, the more you win. 1.0 is always imperfect. You will hear the word “no” hundreds of times more than the word “yes.” The best way to get ready is to do things before you’re ready. The best you can do is get it as right as you can the first time [i.e. "good enough"] and then get better, stronger, smarter. Disruptors try a lot more things than disruptees. They fail fast and they fail forward. [Practice: repeated performance or systematic exercise for the purpose of acquiring skill or proficiency.
#5. Communicate like magic. If you want to be a disruptor, you must be a great communicator. ... the right words generate oxytocin – the love hormone, whereas the wrong words generate cortisol, the stress hormone. .... tell your story in a way that opens people’s hearts, minds and wallets to you. Create a vocabulary.
#6. Be a talent magnet. Disruption demands the boldest and brightest partners....The best talent goes where it earns the highest return. Reputation is everything. [What would Mandela do?]
#7. Play like a champion today. Disruptors may not always play at their best but they play their best every day. They bring their A-Game no matter who they’re playing....you feel their intensity and passion. How hard are you hustling on any given day? Everything matters. There is no such thing as small. They’re all in, all the time.
disruption  personal_branding  uncertainty  hard_work  Pablo_Picasso  creativity  intuition  intensity  passions  talent  failure  partnerships  reputation  Communicating_&_Connecting  storytelling  thinking_big  expertise  inequality_of_information  knowledge_intensive  imperfections  audacity  special_sauce  prolificacy  affirmations  unshared_information  good_enough  pairs  Mike_Lipkin  CAIF 
april 2017 by jerryking
How Not to Drown in Numbers - NYTimes.com
MAY 2, 2015| NYT |By ALEX PEYSAKHOVICH and SETH STEPHENS-DAVIDOWITZ.

If you’re trying to build a self-driving car or detect whether a picture has a cat in it, big data is amazing. But here’s a secret: If you’re trying to make important decisions about your health, wealth or happiness, big data is not enough.

The problem is this: The things we can measure are never exactly what we care about. Just trying to get a single, easy-to-measure number higher and higher (or lower and lower) doesn’t actually help us make the right choice. For this reason, the key question isn’t “What did I measure?” but “What did I miss?”...So what can big data do to help us make big decisions? One of us, Alex, is a data scientist at Facebook. The other, Seth, is a former data scientist at Google. There is a special sauce necessary to making big data work: surveys and the judgment of humans — two seemingly old-fashioned approaches that we will call small data....For one thing, many teams ended up going overboard on data. It was easy to measure offense and pitching, so some organizations ended up underestimating the importance of defense, which is harder to measure. In fact, in his book “The Signal and the Noise,” Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com estimates that the Oakland A’s were giving up 8 to 10 wins per year in the mid-1990s because of their lousy defense.

And data-driven teams found out the hard way that scouts were actually important...We are optimists about the potential of data to improve human lives. But the world is incredibly complicated. No one data set, no matter how big, is going to tell us exactly what we need. The new mountains of blunt data sets make human creativity, judgment, intuition and expertise more valuable, not less.

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From Market Research: Safety Not Always in Numbers | Qualtrics ☑
Author: Qualtrics|July 28, 2010

Albert Einstein once said, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” [Warning of the danger of overquantification) Although many market research experts would say that quantitative research is the safest bet when one has limited resources, it can be dangerous to assume that it is always the best option.
human_ingenuity  data  analytics  small_data  massive_data_sets  data_driven  information_overload  dark_data  measurements  creativity  judgment  intuition  Nate_Silver  expertise  datasets  information_gaps  unknowns  underestimation  infoliteracy  overlooked_opportunities  sense-making  easy-to-measure  Albert_Einstein  special_sauce  metrics  overlooked  defensive_tactics  emotional_intelligence  EQ  soft_skills  overquantification  false_confidence 
may 2015 by jerryking
What fatal flaw led us so deeply into debt?
October 18, 1997 | Globe & Mail | William Thorsell.

The Unheavenly City by Edward Banfield.

Wisdom has three practical dimensions (with intuition providing a fourth for the truly sage person). The first part of wisdom is knowledge, the second is context based on experience, the third is a long perspective on time......the more forward-looking you are, the higher your social class is. People who live a great deal of their intellectual life in the future derive two great advantages over those who do not: They avoid predictable damage to their interests, and they exploit opportunities that might otherwise be lost to others.

This requires a high tolerance for delayed gratification.

In his engaging book, Future Perfect, Stanley Davis argues that most people are stuck managing the results of things that have already happened....the aftermath. Great leaders manage what has not yet happened....the beforemath. "People who take out life insurance and have home mortgages are managing the beforemath...they are managing the consequences of events that have not yet taken place."
William_Thorsell  books  instant_gratification  delayed_gratification  sophisticated  social_classes  debt  debt_crisis  wisdom  long-term  intuition  far-sightedness  beforemath  anticipating  contextual  forward_looking  foresight  aftermath 
july 2013 by jerryking
The Philosophy of Data - NYTimes.com
By DAVID BROOKS
Published: February 4, 2013

Big Data carries with it carry with certain cultural assumptions — that everything that can be measured should be measured; that data is a transparent and reliable lens that allows us to filter out emotionalism and ideology; that data will help us do remarkable things — like foretell the future....some of the questions raised by the data revolution: In what situations should we rely on intuitive pattern recognition and in which situations should we ignore intuition and follow the data? What kinds of events are predictable using statistical analysis and what sorts of events are not? Two things data does really well are:
(1) expose when our intuitive view of reality is wrong.
(2) data can illuminate patterns of behavior we haven’t yet noticed.
cultural_assumptions  David_Brooks  massive_data_sets  data  critical_thinking  pattern_recognition  intuition  biases  measurements  assumptions 
february 2013 by jerryking
Era Of The Super Cruncher
September 15, 2007 | - Newsweek and The Daily Beast | by Jerry Adler
data_mining  data  competingonanalytics  books  intuition  decision_making  Yale  data_driven 
january 2013 by jerryking
Big Data Is Great, but Don’t Forget Intuition
December 29, 2012 | NYTimes.com |By STEVE LOHR.

A major part of managing Big Data projects is asking the right questions: How do you define the problem? What data do you need? Where does it come from? What are the assumptions behind the model that the data is fed into? How is the model different from reality?...recognize the limits and shortcomings of the Big Data technology that they are building. Listening to the data is important, they say, but so is experience and intuition. After all, what is intuition at its best but large amounts of data of all kinds filtered through a human brain rather than a math model?
Andrew_McAfee  asking_the_right_questions  bubbles  conferences  critical_thinking  data_scientists  Erik_Brynjolfsson  failure  hedge_funds  human_brains  information-literate  information-savvy  intuition  massive_data_sets  MIT  models  problems  problem_awareness  problem_definition  problem_framing  questions  skepticism  Steve_Lohr  Wall_Street 
january 2013 by jerryking
Sports Greats’ Uncanny Sixth Sense Can Be Taught - The Informed Reader - WSJ
May 22, 2007 | WSJ | Robin Moroney.

Often, the best players in a sport aren’t the fittest or strongest, but those with “field vision” – knowledge of where teammates are at all times, where the ball is headed and what opponents plan to do.
sports  athletes_&_athletics  intuition 
june 2012 by jerryking
Open Data in Agriculture and Why It Matters
July 16, 2010 | Food+Tech Connect | By Elizabeth Mcvay Greene.

With capabilities like social media that offers instantaneous mini-reports, remote sensing that announces field-level conditions, and user-generated mapping that offers an on-the-ground view of production, merchandising, and consumption activity, we are beginning to get the tools at our fingertips to optimize decision-making with connected, real-time information, not just intuition...don't want farmers’ wisdom to evaporate in the face of technology. Quite the contrary, we want that specialized knowledge of acre, crop, and herd to be augmented and preserved....If a farmer needs to decide how much to irrigate during a drought. It’s a decision that affects just his farm in the short run, but has systemic costs and benefits. If the farmer could connect historical commodity prices, weather charts, financial and environmental costs, and soil conditions to assess the trade-offs in the choice he makes, he could complement his highly refined intuition with the long-term effects that his decision has on his farm and beyond. The more widely information and tools like this are available, the more optimal decisions participants can make throughout the food system.
open_source  agriculture  farming  data  distribution_channels  tools  supply_chains  massive_data_sets  open_data  wisdom  intuition  real-time 
april 2012 by jerryking
Being Clear or Being Tough
In other words, you do not have to be a tough guy. You can, but it’s not required. What you do need to be is clear. Clear on your rules; clear on your objectives; clear on your decisions; and clear on whom you surround yourself with. You must have a Code of Honor that spells out the context of your business, your relationships and your life. Your Code of Honor ensures you remain “clear.”

In all of my businesses, I have had to make tough decisions, but I did not always have to be tough. Just clear that it either works or it doesn’t...it either supports the mission and team or it doesn’t...it either operates by the Code or it doesn’t.

When faced with choices, you have to have more than a ‘gut’ feeling in order to make them. Part of the problem is that most people cannot distinguish between their intuition and their emotional reaction. (Subject for next article!)

You have to have clear guidelines or a Code. Does that mean that every decision, choice or action is black and white? Of course not. But it gives you clarity of purpose, intention and direction.
Communicating_&_Connecting  decision_making  clarity  Code_of_Honor  values  hard_choices  intuition  emotions  gut_feelings 
march 2012 by jerryking
Surprised by Opportunity - WSJ.com
NOVEMBER 14, 2007 | WSJ | By WILLIAM EASTERLY.

Set big goals. Do whatever it takes to reach them. These muscular sentences form the core of commencement addresses, business-advice books, political movements and even the United Nations approach to global poverty. In "Strategic Intuition," a concise and entertaining treatise on human achievement, William Duggan says that such pronouncements are not only banal but wrong.[Duggan is therefore the perfect counterpoint to Jim Collins]

Mr. Duggan, who teaches strategy at Columbia Business School, argues that the commonplace formula has it backward. Instead of setting goals first, he says, it is better to watch for opportunities with large payoffs at low costs and only then set your goals. That is what innovators throughout history have done, as Mr. Duggan shows in a deliriously fast-paced tour of history.
[photo]

Napoleon is Mr. Duggan's canonical example -- his strategic genius was not to storm a pre-fixed position on the battlefield (the traditional approach to military strategy at the time) but to attack any old position that came along where his army was at its strongest and the enemy's at its weakest. Similarly, in the battle for civil rights, Martin Luther King Jr. seized on the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 to shift the NAACP's strategy away from filing lawsuits and toward organizing nonviolent civil disobedience.
audacity  books  book_reviews  civil_disobedience  counterintuitive  flexibility  goal-setting  goals  hard_goals  innovators  intuition  Jim_Collins  kairos  large_payoffs  MLK  NAACP  Napoleon  observations  offensive_tactics  opportunism  personal_payoffs  strategy  William_Duggan  William_Easterly 
november 2011 by jerryking
Why Less Brilliant Presidents Do Better - The Informed Reader - WSJ
Jun 18, 2007 | WSJ | Robin Moroney. Extreme intelligence might
undermine a person’s managerial capacity, he speculates. “What is
required at the top levels of govt. is not brilliance, but managerial
skill,” says Posner. That includes knowing “when to defer to the
superior knowledge of a more experienced but less mentally agile
subordinate.” Especially intelligent people also have difficulty
trusting the intuitions of less-articulate people who have more
experience than they do. That might be why many smart senior officials
in govt. have tried to reason their way through problems on their own,
assuming their civil servants’ inadequate explanations rendered their
judgments invalid. Furthermore, many of the situations that presidents
face are defined by uncertainty, rather than complexity. In cases e.g.
Vietnam, where presidents and their inner circle were dealing with an
ambiguous situation, “having great information-processing skills is not
worth a lot if you have no reliable info..”
ambiguities  civil_servants  complexity  execution  experience  Gary_Becker  gut_feelings  intuition  IQ  mental_dexterity  Richard_A._Posner  smart_people  uncertainty  White_House 
october 2010 by jerryking
Science Journal - WSJ.com
OCTOBER 20, 2006 | Wall Street Journal | by SHARON BEGLEY.
Critical thinking means being able to evaluate evidence, to tell fact
from opinion, to see holes in an argument, to tell whether cause and
effect has been established and to spot illogic.....critical-thinking
skills are different from critical-thinking dispositions, or a
willingness to deploy those skills."

A tendency to employ critical thinking, according to studies going back a
decade, goes along with certain personality traits, not necessarily
with intelligence. Being curious, open-minded, open to new experiences
and conscientious indicates a disposition to employ critical thinking,
says Prof. Bensley. So does being less dogmatic and less authoritarian,
and having a preference for empirical and rational data over intuition
and emotion when weighing information and reaching conclusions.
critical_thinking  Sharon_Begley  evidence  inquisitiveness  argumentation  open_mind  curiosity  intuition  emotions  rationalism  assessments_&_evaluations 
may 2009 by jerryking

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