Whether you subscribe to the view that data is the new oil, or maybe think it’s the new nuclear waste, there is no doubting that there is an awful lot of the stuff floating around organisations these days.

The massive volume of data stored in most businesses is probably less to do with more quantitative stuff being generated and more because of the exponential impact of first images and then video. Nonetheless, we gather more data points today than organisations have ever had the capacity to store in the past.

But all this data means nowt if you don’t do anything with it. And that doesn’t just mean putting in systems – it means fundamentally changing the behaviours by which data is consumed and acted upon. Getting people to change is hard enough – it becomes even more of a challenge when you keep in mind that acting rationally upon information before us is only half the way in which humans make decisions and take actions.

Alongside the deliberate “Type 2”, slow thinking (to use Kahneman’s language) we also use fast thinking that is based not on evidence but heuristics. Some refer to these as Cognitive Biases and then seem to think of them somehow as bugs in the Human operating system. But that ignores that those heuristics are in no small part how we have become the dominant species on the planet. And all of those generations of decision making have been based on far less data than we have available today.

So, making yourself a data-centric organisation, acting upon facts, means trying to get people to work in ways that may well go against their nature. It’s not just about putting in the latest reporting tool.


I’ve recently launched Stamp London’s first physical products – sets of playing cards called CxO Priorities. You can find out more about them here, and order a set for yourself here (or simply download the PDF and print them out).

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