Have you ever noticed that the basis of your team decision-making is about one opinion versus another? How often do you receive a proposal where the recommendation is at best substantiated by a solid “because I think so”?
A very simple way to strengthen yourself, your team and your decisions is to let the data do the talking.
If you want to advance in your career, take a closer look at how you make recommendations and decisions.
I recently participated as a judge for an MBA case competition. Student teams from various schools had 5 days to analyze a case study and come up with recommendations for what the company in the case should do to move forward strategically.
The teams that stood out were the teams that let the data tell the story. When you have data, you can much more easily compel people to believe in your story and hence want to pursue your recommendations.
When you start with opinion, you fall victim to debate over who’s opinion is more valid. The right answer should always be: the opinion that can be best substantiated with data.
Here are the 3 steps to moving from opinion, to data, to decision:
- Start with Opinion. Gather all the opinions about a matter and listen closely. Where you start to observe contradictions or conflicting opinions, start to gather the real data.
- Set up your data in a sequence that tells a story. You can use PowerPoint to help. On each slide, show the chart, graph or statistics that address the contradictions or conflicting opinions you observed in step 1. Then clearly state the truth that the data has unveiled.
- Clearly outline the options that are supported by the data, as well as the options that are either contradicted by the data or that lack the data to support them.
Too often really great opinions and ideas go unsubstantiated with data and we are left to follow sub-optimal plans that had the clearer story. Do not be lazy about data, and demand it equally from your direct reports. Then watch as your career advances in ways you had only hoped until now.