Why Analytical Business Decisions Suck

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Scenario: "Dude, we gotta write lengthy calculations on the market region, and freakishly analyze each segment. We'll make the greatest decisions in our industry. We'll be kings. Yay!" It's what those self-described-holier-than-thou "business experts" have warped our minds:
  • "Do lengthy research!"
  • "Write detailed marketing plans!"
  • "Understand your target market in extreme detail!"
  • "Do market studies in every freakin' region in the freakin' nation!"
Blah. Sucks. No. Wtheck. People don't make their best decisions through freakishly analyzing something; they get discover them intuitively. We'll explain.

The Nerdiest Analytical SOB = Bad Business People

In business, people ask themselves something similar to the following:
  • "Will my XYZ product sell?"
  • "Should I hire this Applicant Jimmy?"
  • "What products need more of our R&D dollars?"
  • "What regional markets should I attack?"
  • "What partners will help us most in developing service ABC?"
Using the shoddy advice of those "business experts," most people tend to attack similar business questions by going all-logical on its @ss. In earlier posts, we said trying to strategize something never works. You can have do the most expensive market research, plan the most detailed strategy, hire the best strategic consultants, and yet: you still can't predict the future. No study on corporate strategy has ever proved it can do that. Doing it then is a waste of time and resources:

The Vicious Analytical Cycle, and How It Sucks

For instance, Manager Jimmy will:
  1. Analyze the corporate strategy of a particular competitor.
  2. Thinks he's almost done, but not quite.
  3. Analyze the market acceptance of Product B in Region G.
  4. Thinks he's almost done, but not quite.
  5. Analyze the customer acquisition costs of Product B like a crazy mofo.
  6. Thinks he's almost done, but not quite.
  7. (Cycle repeats.)
Stuck in the seemingly never-ending cycle, Manager Jimmy goes through paralysis analysis -- thinking he constantly needs just "this much more" info before he thinks he can make a decision. Result: He experiences "paralysis-analysis" -- then when the whole process emotionally drains him, he concludes the idea sucks without even testing how the real-world responds to it. Kick-ass managers do something radically different -- and pretty freakin' sweet: they rely on their instincts to make lightening-quick decisions. For instance, Kick-ass Manager Sally will:
  1. Do simple research on competitors, marketing approaches, and ease of acquiring customers.
  2. Rely on instincts to make a quick and hearty decision.
You not only make faster decisions when you think instinctively, but you're making smarter ones as well. Here's why.

Why Making Decisions on Instinct Rocks

When you rely on your instincts, you're letting your subconscious side of your brain take control of your decisions. That's where the juicy, sexy stuff lies. The subconscious side of your brain houses your creativity, your passion, your dreams, your big-picture-thinking abilities so needed for quality decisions. Importantly, it holds the "meaty" information that your conscious doesn't yet know. Think of it using our twisted analogy: Your subconscious brain is the kitchen blender; it collects pertinent information you've already learned, and processes it to make a specific delicacy; now it's waiting for your conscious to notice it. When you make decisions intuitively, that's when you tap that delicacy. Harvard Business Review Editor Alden M. Hayashi recounts a leading neuroscientist's study on patients who suffered brain damage to areas that affected their subconscious:
These patients had difficulty making simple, even trivial, decisions.

The Patient Who Couldn't Decide

In his book Descartes' Error, Damasio recounts one particularly bizarre incident in which he asked a patient to choose between two dates for his next appointment. The patient pulled out his engagement book and began going through the myriad reasons for and against each date, taking into consideration his previous commitments, the proximity of them, the possible weather on the two days, and so on.

No Luck

After almost a half hour of listening to this excruciatingly tiresome -- yet perfectly rational and logical -- analysis, Damasio chose a date for the patient.

Why couldn't the patient make a decision?

To explain this phenomenon, Damasio contends that decision making is far from a cold, analytic process. Instead, says Damasio, our emotions and feelings play a crucial role by helping us filter various possibilities quickly, even though our conscious mind might not be aware of the screening. Our intuitive feelings thus guide our decision making to the point at which our conscious mind is able to make good choices.

You Will Fail -- Good!

Don't think your intuitive side will be right every time. You'll be wrong many more times than you'll be right. (At the least however, you'll be right more times than you would with analytical decisions.) The good news: The more failures you have, the meatier, real-world information you'll get to steer you on the right path. Think of each failure as adding more "meat" to your subconscious brain. Each empowers your intuitiveness. A rule of thumb we use at Trizzy: The more decisions you make in a day, the more successes you'll eventually find. So as that rule goes:

Stop analyzing; start deciding instinctively.

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Posted on October 26

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