I know everyone is in information overload, but there are stark lessons to be learned from this situation. We can use them to make smarter decisions now, (and in the future – regardless of the discipline), plan better, and work to avoid a crisis in the future. Whether you are trying to deliver great customer experiences or working to prepare for future public health situations, there are some lessons (and hence principles) that apply across the board. So, what are those?
Without good data, you are flying blind
The basis of any good science is good data. But without it, we don’t know where we are, and worse we can’t predict where we’re going.
Solid collection practices are the backbone of getting the right data to support decision making. To arrive at better outcomes, we need the right amount of data, but we also need it properly processed (i.e., cleaned), and we need it in a timely fashion. Just a few weeks ago, I wrote a blog titled, “5 data-driven principles for the Chief Data Officer to reshape CX strategy.” One takeaway urges the adoption of data-design thinking, a methodology to gather the right data for purpose-built, next-best-action strategies. This way, decision-makers (and the decision-support systems they use) have the right amount of data at the right time, saving precious time and resources in arriving at and delivering optimal decisions.
Another lesson centers on responsibility in data collection and subsequent decision making; suggesting that its paramount to seriously consider how we are collecting data since it will form the foundation for eventual decisions. When we do it right, we have powerful ways to scrutinize the past, understand the present and forecast the future.
Thus, use a purpose-driven approach to collecting data, and invest in it now and in the future. Don’t be caught in a situation where you don’t have the data you need to make real-time decisions.
Use science, not hunches, to guide decisions
Our ability to logically test and learn is one of our best tools to navigate the troubled waters of a harsh and competitive environment. Yet we are also emotional and rash creatures, and as such we have tendencies to skew our experiments and bias our results. Who hasn’t fallen victim to constructing a commentary somewhere along the way that trumpets the data that supports our hypothesis, while downplaying the data that signals problems with it? Some even manipulate the data. Please don’t do that.
As scientists, we must avoid these temptations and stick to the scientific methods that have served us well in the past and lead our advances.
Form hypothesis from data, not out of thin air, and then test & learn
One of my favorite quotes about forming theories is from the fictional character Sherlock Holmes:
“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”
I don’t have much to add to that. It speaks for itself and reminds us that the first step in any science is to collect and analyze data before embarking on theory and hypothesis formation. Then, if we follow proper testing methodologies – our data-based hypothesis enters the arena of solid experimental design, where we can determine if it has any basis.
Be empathetic when faced with uncertainly, and use the voice of reason to guide actions
All of us can set goals to be more empathetic, exhibit calm, and make decisions based on facts, evidence, and concrete research.
Whether you are playing the role of the consumer or the customer-facing agent helping others, think about the other person. They are a human too, just like you, with insecurities, needs, motivations, and emotions. Treat them as you would your close friends and family. In times of stress and uncertainty, those who practice empathetic service will stand out.
This is a much shorter post than is normal for me. Ordinarily, I like to research a topic – reading as much as I can about it and learning from others – and then try to say something unique and useful, supporting it with some depth of examples and references.
But I felt compelled to write quickly on this topic, and hopefully, it still at least meets my criteria of being useful at some level. Stay virtually connected and may you be well.