Data Driven Assessments: Q's for CU's


Data Controller on Black Control Console with Blue Backlight. Increase, improvement, control or management concept.


We all aim to be educated decisions makers, and when faced with leading our organizational growth while strategically aligning opportunities and minimizing threats, we often opt for quantified hard facts. Many times, deep data can feel like a bit of a rabbit hole, where we loose ourselves in the trenches, cycling increased dependency on a desperate search for evidence. The question remains, how are we using the information we depend on to validate our road-map forward? How we analyze and process this information directly impacts the saliency of the path we forge forward.

Questions force our firefighting brains to swap from the reactive amygdala, ( that powerhouse in our brain that ignites when triggered by that magical productivity hormone- "stress") to a proactive, methodical and mindful neurological experience. Slowing our thought process down to mindfully inquire may sound like adding additional steps to our loaded workday, where in reality this process allows our problem-solving to fully engage by rejecting the temptation of low hanging fruit.

Symptoms constantly fizzle and explode all around us, often times fueling an inclination for knee-jerk decisions with fast execution. Are we evaluating our data deep enough to identify the root cause? Are we treating symptoms or are we evaluating the culprit?

Taking an Advil for a headache is great - for eight hours. But, what happens when it wears off?

Harvard Business Review published top questions one should ask when presented with data sets. According to Haller and Satell, "before we land on a decision we should all be asking:

  • How was this Data Sourced?
  • How was it Analyzed?
  • What Doesn't the Data Tell Us?
  • How can we use Data to Redesign Products and Business Models?"


So, as we jump into tackling the tasks of our day, while aligning our long-term strategies by evaluating our own cost benefit analysis - let's not accept the easy answer for a quick temporary win. Just because data exists does not mean it's correct, or, that it is the correct data to validate your chosen path forward.

Accepting a humble foundation that we all could be, and usually at least somewhat are, wrong - is the key starting place. Skeptical? Maybe. Thorough and Inquisitive? Absolutely.

Every decision we are tasked with represents an iceberg event; data is our visual 10% above the water that we can see. If we take a moment and dare to dive below the surface, we have the opportunity to start investigating the deeper meaning of our lingering data. The quality of our decisions count on the submerged 90%.

If the core meaning of our data is muddled under symptoms posed as problems, how are leaders supposed to sift this information? This is where the power of an external perspective is so crucial. The outside eye kicks your subconsciousness mind and heuristic tenancy to the curb - offering a fresh perspective. Identifying what to change and mapping how to change it creates an environment of continuous improvement.

Let's start by questioning our data, and deepen both our strategic analysis and business continuity. A comprehensive external perspective creates a bridge from data assessments to actionable paths ahead. This is the ultimate power of vulnerability; and I ask that we all strive to muster the courage to ask for an objective outside eye.



View the HBR article cited in this blog here:


Haller, E., & Satell, G. (2020, February 11). Data-Driven Decisions Start with These 4 Questions. Retrieved from