Decision-Making

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“Out-Getting” Is the Next Great Baseball Strategy. Or Not.

In this episode of Counterpoints, the subject is baseball — specifically, the analytics-centered strategy for pitchers called out-getting, which focuses on pitchers’ efficiency rather than on when, how often, and how much they pitch. Will this practice transform baseball in the classic Moneyball tradition — or will it simply be an interesting tactic that teams sometimes use to gain a temporary advantage?

How You Can Have More Impact as a People Analyst

In the messy real world of ambiguous evidence and contentious objectives, organizational decisions — especially those about the people you’re hiring, developing, managing, and trying to retain — usually hinge on relationships and trust. So if you work in people analytics, you must learn to traffic in that currency to make an impact. It’s not enough to be right. You also have to sell your model or idea. These tactics can help.

A Structured Approach to Strategic Decisions

Many decisions about strategy require that senior executives make evaluative judgments on the basis of extensive, complex information. Such work is prone to common errors, but a disciplined, sequential approach can mitigate those errors and improve the quality of both one-off and recurrent decisions in an array of business domains. The process described in this article is easy to learn, involves little additional work, and (within limits) leaves room for intuition.

Mapping Tom Brady’s Brain

ESPN’s Bryan Burke previews the 2019 Sloan Sports Analytics session on deep learning and quarterback decision-making. The ultimate goal: to understand how a quarterback processes information and to track the patterns their minds tend to follow.

What to Do When Industry Disruption Threatens Your Career

Volatility in an industry should concern not only the companies within it but also the people who work for them. To stay ahead of developments that may disrupt your professional life, you must make two evidence-based diagnoses: How volatile is your industry? And what explains the volatility? The answers will equip you to disrupt your own career preemptively.

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Ethics as Conversation: A Process for Progress

  • Read Time: 5 min 

Most organizations can agree on what questions to consider before making a decision about marketing, finance, or operations. But many stumble when the issue has ethical consequences. Leaders need to define what set of questions they want to consider when confronted with an issue that has ethical implications. Seven basic questions can get them started.

Leadership Lessons From Your Inner Child

Examining childhood traits such as boldness, experimentation, and resilience may help leaders access these qualities in service of their leadership roles. Rather than trying to learn how to be more creative or innovative, learning how not to lose the innate creativity and curiosity within us is more effective.

How to Get Others to Adopt Your Recommendation

When a business is growing fast, decisions can get lost in the fray — especially if it’s unclear that a decision even needs to be made. People in the workplace bring recommendations to four audiences: a manager or top executive (those who approve a recommendation), and peers or a broader set of stakeholders (those who execute a recommendation). To sell an idea and get others to take action, you have to understand what your particular audience needs to hear.

Why Teams Should Record Individual Expectations

To improve decision quality, risk management, and leadership development, organizations and teams should record individual expectations when making big group decisions. That may sound like a tall order, especially for a large organization. But interactive dashboards can make the process of gathering and analyzing everyone’s input much less cumbersome, and the benefits of doing so outweigh the costs.

Think Critically About the Wisdom of Experts

Leaders and managers must inevitably consult the analysis, advice, and research of people whose expertise exceeds their own in a variety of domains. Getting the most from that perspective means understanding precisely how to question the experts’ wisdom, no matter what form it takes. Eight specific lessons can help leaders and managers use others’ expertise to the greatest possible advantage in everyday business decisions.

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The Challenge of Scaling Soft Skills

  • Read Time: 5 min 

We understand a lot about how to develop the “hard skills” of analysis, decision-making, and analytical judgment, but we know a great deal less about the genesis of “soft skills” like empathy, context sensing, collaboration, and creative thinking, which are becoming increasingly valuable in the workplace. Understanding the obstacles to developing these soft skills and then addressing those barriers is crucial for our schools, homes, and workplaces.

Goodbye Structure; Hello Accountability

  • Read Time: 7 min 

Companies will be able to operate as true digital organizations only when they learn how to respond quickly to unanticipated opportunities and threats. But instead of restructuring to increase agility, some organizations are assigning accountabilities for specific business outcomes to small teams or individual problem owners. Tackling new objectives is then built around individual flexibility, market-based resource allocation, experimental mindsets, and coaching rather than managing.

The Mindsets of a Leader

Researchers have identified six distinct mindsets that contribute to leaders’ portfolio of leadership styles by asking one simple question: Whom do the leaders serve? Identifying these mindsets can help companies recognize how the leader’s styles are helping — or hurting — their performance.

The Need for ‘Techno-Supporting Skeptics’

  • Read Time: 6 min 

Digital technologies will increase the high levels of ambiguity that executives must navigate. Aspiring leaders may respond by ignoring the challenge, which isn’t sustainable. A better response is to harbor healthy skepticism of the digital technologies they champion, develop values that will lead to better decisions, and work to institutionalize those values at the organizational level.

What the Military Can Teach Organizations About Agility

  • Read Time: 6 min 

Once bastions of command-and-control management style, U.S. military institutions have moved to the forefront of organizational and leadership agility. Today’s military leadership emphasizes efficient movement through four decision cycles — observe, orient, decide, and act — to speed up its response to external threats. It’s also investing significant resources to become more agile and experimenting with innovative solutions.

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Justifying Human Involvement in the AI Decision-Making Loop

Though AI is far from perfect, vast training data has given smart systems formidable accuracy in making independent decisions. Yet even as these decision-making capabilities improve, a Cold War history lesson reminds us that human involvement may still be needed to avoid intolerable consequences of incorrect AI decisions.

AI in the Boardroom: The Next Realm of Corporate Governance

Business has become too complex for boards and CEOs to make good decisions without intelligent systems. Just as artificial intelligence helps doctors use patient data to make better diagnoses and create individualized medical solutions, AI can help business leaders know more precisely which strategy and investments will provide exponential growth and value in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Your Time Is Limited, So Choose Your Projects Wisely

  • Read Time: 3 min 

Making the right decision about which projects and partnerships to enter into seems like it should be easy. But it often isn’t. Being smart about where you devote your resources — your personal time, energy, and finances, as well as those of your organization — means being smart about not just time management, but about choice management. That means being proactive and disciplined about asking why you think a project is a good fit. It also means paying attention to your inner skeptic.

When People Don’t Trust Algorithms

Even when faced with evidence that an algorithm will deliver better results than human judgment, we consistently choose to follow our own minds. Why? MIT Sloan Management Review editor in chief Paul Michelman sat down with the University of Chicago’s Berkeley Dietvorst to find out.

Harnessing the Secret Structure of Innovation

Innovation, much like marketing and human resources, can be made less reliant on artful intuition by using information in new ways. But this requires a change in perspective: We need to view innovation not as the product of luck or extraordinary vision but as the result of a deliberate search process.

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