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Bring in the shrinks for decision analysis

Now comes the hard part in business intelligence: figuring out how the humans can make better use of all our data and tools for decision making, writes Wayne Eckerson, director of TDWI Research. Let’s bring in the shrinks.

When Wayne points to a trend, it’s news even if others might have already foreseen it. He’s one of the industry’s most thoughtful observers, and one of the most deliberate.

In Tuesday morning’s blog post, he suggests improving BI by enlisting those who study how people make decisions.

To take BI to the next level, we need better insights into human behavior and perception. In other words, it’s time to recruit psychologists onto our BI teams.

He gave an example of one place that could have benefited from visits to the shrink’s couch.

A recent article in the Boston Globe called “Think Different, CIA” provides some instructive lessons for companies using BI tools to make decisions. The article describes a phenomenon that psychologists call “premature cognitive closure” to explain how humans in general, and intelligence analysts in particular, can get trapped by false assumptions, which can lead to massive intelligence failures. It turns out that humans over the course of eons have become great at filtering lots of data quickly to make sense of a situation. Unfortunately, those filters often blind us to additional evidence — or its absence — that would disprove our initial judgment or “theory.” In other words, humans rush to judgment and are blinded by biases. Of course, we all know this, but rarely do organizations implement policies and procedures to safeguard against such behaviors and prevent people from making poor decisions.

See his full post here.

Be sure to see the comments, too. He writes in reply to questions, “Like data governance, we need some principles for approaching and managing decisions. Maybe we should start a decision governance institute!?”

I can’t help notice: an institute.

See “CIA’s insights on the psychology of analysis on Datadoodle.

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