better decisions
February 2, 2017

How to make better decisions as a Customer Insight leader

By Paul Laughlin

A natural build on our recent leadership emphasis, is how the latest insights from the discipline of Customer Insight can help leaders make better decisions.

A few posts that I’ve read recently have touched on this topic. Hopefully, I can help you as a leader, by sharing this content with you.

The first content also touches on a topic that our latest reader survey requested more content on, that of behavioural biases and some of the academic evidence for what to consider and how to face into their existence.

Make better decisions using Behavioural Biases

Regular readers will recognize that I’ve previously acknowledged the expertise of Nir Eyal in this field. In this post on “How Cognitive Biases can help (and hurt) your business“, Nir shares an interview with Buster Benson a product manager with Slack (the ‘in vogue’ internal comms tool).

It turns out that Buster has both a good understanding of behavioural biases, having compiled a list of more than 200 and has used these in both his previous role at Twitter and his developments at Slack.

A useful, short read, for customer insight – especially his tips of behavioural cues to watch out for…

How Cognitive Biases Can Help (and Hurt) Your Business | NirandFar

Nir’s Note: Q: You recently compiled and organized a list of more than 200 cognitive biases — our tendencies to think and act in quirky ways. What is it that draws you to biases? Buster Benson is a former product manager at Slack who worked previously at Twitter and Habit Labs and is working on a new book about productive disagreements.

Tested advice on making better decisions

As well as embracing the lessons to be learned from the latest academic research (be that cognitive science or data science), as a leader it also helps to be well read in proven experts.

For all leaders & managers, such a list surely includes the writings of management guru Peter Drucker. Certainly for those working in strategy or marketing, his texts are pretty much required reading.

So, for this topic, I’m pleased to also share this useful summary from our regular guest blogger Annette Franz over on her own CX Journey blog. In this, two post series, she usefully summarises key advice from Peter Drucker’s “The Practice of Management“. From my own experience as a leader, I especially like the point to ‘develop alternative solutions’. Working within a large organisation one needs to be conscious of & swim upstream against ‘group think’. Sounds advice here…

The Five Phases of Decision-Making – Part 1

If you have, I’d love to hear about it. If not, read on. As a leader, your next best action is based on making a decision as to what that action will be. How do you arrive at that decision? I’ve been reading Peter Drucker’s The Practice of Management; in it, Drucker devotes a chapter to decision making.


Decision making in regards to Machine Learning

Finally, in this short post, I want to touch on a specific decision that I have heard raised by a number of Customer Insight or Data Science leaders, whom I help. That is, what to do about ‘Machine Learning’ or ‘Artificial Intelligence’?

I have literally lost count of the number of Data Science leaders, with whom I’ve talked, who are conscious that this is the ‘holy grail’ or expectation of their teams; even though most of their current work is taken up with data prep & more basic analytics.

So, how could you practically get started, without seeking to emulate the Deep Learning sophistication of IBM Watson?

We’ve previously featured the basics of what leaders need to understand about the term Machine Learning.

In this helpful post from Margarita Hakobyan, she surveys the reality of how AI is being used in practice. Much more limited than the Deep Learning dreams (or my experience of the potential for Expert Systems 20 years ago). This is nevertheless a useful prompt for leaders trying to decide what to test now. What are the practical more automated customer service or personalisation improvements you could test?

How To Use Artificial Intelligence To Enhance Customer Experience

Tweet When we think of artificial intelligence, most people think of two specific things: androids, and the future. We think of creations that will look, more or less, like humans, and things which are far off from our modern times.

How have your decisions turned out?

I hope the above content helps inspire or inform the decisions you have to make as a leader this week.

As a coach, as well as a blogger, my only other advice would be learn from what you have done already. Have they turned out well? Were there unintended consequences? Were there other parties/stakeholders whom you hadn’t considered? What could you learn for similar decisions in future?

Leadership decisions are always influenced by the context & timing, but striving to get better each time & learn from your mistakes is a key part to growing as a leader.

What mistakes have you learnt from? (if you feel safe to share)