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Posted by on Aug 15, 2017

Same Data, Different Conclusions: It’s a Good Thing

Same Data, Different Conclusions: It’s a Good Thing

Two professional discussing a decision

In just a couple weeks, I will be on my way to Italy for a two-week vacation! Che bella! When I was deciding where to go with my husband, I experienced a bit of work-related decision-making déjà vu. Every option we considered was very different from the next, but all were possibilities chosen based on the same exact set of data (number of vacation days available, budget, etc.).

I felt like I was back at the office working with a team, arguing about what decision to make, even though we’re usually reviewing the same data. The difficulty can be that different does not necessarily mean wrong in these situations.

So, how do you successfully prepare for those conversations where everyone’s perspectives are different, but also valid?

First, think through your own decision-making process:

  • How did you land on your decision?
  • How did you weigh/prioritize each piece of information?

Maybe you want to spend as many days as possible on big, once-in-a-lifetime vacations, and so you decide to go all-out on a long Safari trip in Africa. Or maybe you’d rather scatter PTO on shorter vacations to places close by, always with a buffer day to recover when you get home, so you plan several city-hopping long weekends to Miami, Seattle, San Diego, and Boston throughout the year.

Once you understand your own process, you’ll be better-equipped to collaborate with others.

As you enter these conversations, keep in mind that everyone is going to approach a decision from their own unique perspective. Ask yourself:

  • How could others interpret this data?
  • How might your own decision change if you had additional data?
  • Is there new information that others have that might influence your decision?
  • What decision, or rather, what desired outcome of the decision, is best for the mission?

If you take a few moments to think through the answers ahead of time, you’ll be more prepared for the conversations, and likely more open to possibilities. It will help you understand where others are coming from, as well as what potential differences to expect.

More often than not, analyses do not point to a single decision. This can invite conflict when stakeholders bring different perspectives to the table. By arming yourself with your own decision-making process, and an understanding of how others might interpret data, you are setting yourself up for success.

Data-driven decision making, naturally, is equal parts data analysis and collaborative, constructive decision-making skills. For more strategies, techniques, skills, processes, and models on this subject, along with training for influencing stakeholders, register here for our new two-day course, Data-Driven Decision Making.

And just remember, an African safari isn’t wrong, it’s just different! Ciao!

Enjoy this blog post? Check out our other recent Analytics blogs—and don’t miss our other posts on data-driven decision making. And don’t forget to subscribe to this blog by using the form at the top-right of this page!

2 Comments

  1. Same data, different conclusions. That’s the beauty of collecting some great data. That’s where it begins. The better your data, the more varied your analysis and assessment of that data. It’s a lot like going to the doctor and then getting a second opinion, or a third. You have many tests trying to figure out why you’re sick. You can have three experienced, expert professionals make an assessment based on a review of the same data yet present different findings or outcomes to explain what’s wrong with you and the best treatment. Maybe they all are right, regardless how different their opinions may be.

    You’re right, that different doesn’t necessarily mean wrong. The number 9 can also be the number 6 depending on your optic or vantage point. It’s all in how you look at it. You raise some great points. So, how do you prepare for this different perspectives? How do you prepare for such a conversation? If you do not think of it ahead of time, you can be caught off guard when contradicted, and it might appear you don’t know what you’re talking about if you’re not prepared. That’s why some experts proactively conduct an alternative analysis, taking a step back and attempting to look at different potential results from a review of the same data. It’s particularly crucial if you know you’ll likely have naysayers attacking your data, trying to poke holes in it. If you poke your own holes in it first, you essentially take the poison (the power) away from your attackers or adversaries or nemesis.

    • I completely agree, Will! Thanks for such a thorough and thoughful reply – glad you enjoyed the post!

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