Category Archives: Guest Post

Guest post: The convergence of behavioral economics and big data

What does cold dead fish have to do with random forests? If you were to open a restaurant that served cold dead fish, you would not stay open for very long. However, if you used the concept of framing and instead sold a delicacy called Sushi, you would have much better chance of staying in business. Framing is a concept in the emerging field of behavioral economics that attempts to understand how people make decisions as well as how to influence those decisions. Other examples include the use of a default preference in order to encourage more people to become organ donors and rearranging the layout of food in a school cafeteria to get kids to eat more healthy fruits and vegetables. Continue reading

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Guest post: Mindset GPS: Navigating New Realities

Great leaders make the right call at the right time to deliver outstanding results. They avoid relying on outdated mindsets and practices in a complex and changing environment. Leaders today must be willing to help others to think strategically, question past practices, and explore new alternatives.

Relying on old habits, acquiescing to group think, and depending on obsolete assumptions limits individual careers and reduces organizational viability.  A painful example: in the 1990s, mortgage bankers granted 95% mortgages based on the wrong assumption that home prices never fall more than 5%. They paid a high price for their narrow thinking. Additionally, they ignored expert warnings about a real estate bubble. One bank executive stated that he knew it would blow up, but as long as the music was playing, he had to keep dancing. Instead of searching for a new melody, he went along for the ride.

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Guest post: Ignite people to change by leveraging a simple quirk of the human mind

Before Martin Luther King had a dream, E.D. Nixon had a plan. It was a good plan, too.  Nixon thought he could make huge strides in the struggle for racial equality in his hometown of Montgomery, Alabama by orchestrating a boycott of the city bus system–both a bastion of segregation and a huge money-maker for the city.

He had a sound strategy and a thorough plan.  But it was proving difficult to get the masses of African-American bus riders to go along with the change plan, and actually stop riding the buses.  Just like countless team leaders and project managers in today’s organizations, Nixon had all the dominoes lined up, but he couldn’t get them to start falling.

Then one morning in the early spring of 1955, a courageous young woman took a seat on a city bus. After the bus filled up, the driver ordered her to move so that a white woman could take her seat. When she refused, the irritated bus driver then flagged down two police officers who grabbed the young lady and hauled her off to jail.  And the rest of the story is history.

Today, everyone knows that Rosa Parks’ decision to stay seated on that bus inspired a domino effect of change that tore down the walls of racial segregation in America.There is just one problem with that story.

Rosa Parks wasn’t there.

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Guest post: Can technology help fix us?

No matter whether you pull for Donald or Bernie or are an “occupier” or a “tea partier” or anywhere in between, you have to admit that we have a problem. The system is broken, due to gerrymandering, big money, or any other possible reason that you can name. We have issues, such as “income inequality,” or “climate change” that are of major concern to one of our major parties while the other is somewhat unconcerned to the extent that some within the party don’t think that the problems exists; we have one party claiming credit for what it sees as tremendous success of its health care bill while the other party constantly tries to repeal or dismantle it.

Gone are the days of the bipartisanship that brought us the Civil Rights and Voting Rights bills (even in the face of southern segregationists) and Environmental legislation. We have a booming economy in terms of Wall Street and corporate profits and a stagnant one in terms of worker salaries and buying power. Continue reading

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Guest Post: A knowledge management system capable of blinking red

Inattention to critical knowledge is an old problem. Lessons are forgotten, near misses are ignored, caution is dismissed, disasters result. Titanic. Bhopal. AIG. Katrina. Fukushima. And on and on.

Knowledge Management (KM) is supposed to make the right information available to the right people at the right time in the right form—and to the best level of certainty possible—for making the most appropriate decisions when and where they are needed. KM should also direct the attention of decision makers to critical information and help them make sense of it. The bigger the stakes, the more situational awareness and mindfulness are needed. Continue reading

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Guest post: Announcing World Makers

The goal of World Makers is to encourage people to build computer simulations of the world. This includes simulating water, weather, crops, land use policy or anything else. Models can be regional or global, simple sketches or full blown simulations.

The classic game ‘Sim City’ by Will Wright is perhaps the best known example of a computer simulation. It lets people build their own imaginary city from the ground up, placing roads, homes and services and measuring their success against the happiness of the population. The goal here is similar – but real – with real data, real stakeholders and real outcomes.

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Guest Post: The dirty dozen: twelve ways to fail at effective decision making

In the course of my decision analysis, analytics, and intelligence work for businesses and industry, I have identified a set of common points of failure in a typical decision engineering initiative.  These characterize the “hidden traps”, where decision makers often struggle to preserve the integrity of the Decision Engineering life cycle.

Below is the chain of those failure points. I have listed them in a sequence in which I have found them to typically occur.  Each one encompass the preceding two points in the list.

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Guest Post: Beyond the Professor: Gilligan’s Island and the data science talent search

I am not a data scientist. I repeat, I am not a data scientist.

Last week I spoke on a panel with the author of this blog and several other decision intelligence executives. Our topic, “Who is Your Chief Decision Officer”, was a hit. The discussion centered on the fact that the data and technology exist today to make “Big Decisions” within complex organizational systems.  However, most companies are missing a strategic owner of the data.

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Guest Post: What is Decision Intelligence (DI), anyway?

Decision Intelligence: An easy and pedagogical way to make Informed Decisions using collective intelligence

Have you sometimes had the feeling that you missed important aspects in your decision making which make you feel somewhat uneasy?

Did you perhaps forget to take certain facts into consideration or did you misjudge the relative importance of an influencing factor? Did you realize the unintended consequences of the decision taken?

You know there is a tacit cause-and-effect mechanism under the surface, but maybe you did not capture it, or even not understood it.

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