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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Great Decision Making

Good piece which get to the point of decision and process.  And also ultimately in AI.  The solution of commuting to a default decision up front is interesting, never seen it implemented.   And would seem to depend on the risk of alternate decisions,  and understanding them in alternate contexts.  Seeking data in alternate contexts is commendable, but often hard.

The First Thing Great Decision Makers Do
By Cassie Kozyrkov in HBR

As a statistician, I appreciate the quote by applied statistics pioneer W. Edwards Deming, “In God we trust. All others bring data.” But as a social scientist, I’m compelled to warn you that many decision-makers chase data with too much zeal, running from ignorance but never improving their decisions. Is there a way to land in the sweet spot? There is, and it starts with one simple decision-making habit: Commit to your default decision up front.

The key to decision-making is framing the decision context before you seek data — a skill that unfortunately is not usually covered in data science courses. To learn it, you’ll need to look to the social and managerial sciences. It’s unfortunate that we don’t teach it enough where it is most needed: as a skill for leading and managing data science projects. Even in statistics, which is the discipline of making decisions under uncertainty, most of the exercises that students encounter already have the context pre-framed. Your professor usually creates the hypotheses for you and/or frames the question so there’s only one right answer. Wherever there’s a right answer, the decision-maker has already blazed that trail.

Many decision-makers think they’re being data-driven when they look at a number, form an opinion, and execute their decision. Unfortunately, such a decision will be “data-inspired” at best. Data-inspired decision-making is where we swim around in some numbers, eventually reach an emotional tipping point, and then decide. There were numbers near that decision somewhere, but those numbers didn’t drive the decision. The decision came from somewhere else entirely. It was there all along in the unconscious biases of the decision-maker.   .... " 

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