Becoming a data-driven organisation

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Making informed and effective decisions is critical to the success of any organisation. However, the amount of data available can often be overwhelming, making it difficult for decision-makers to identify the most relevant and valuable information.

As a young graduate in the 1980s, I often heard the Deming attributed phrase, “in God we trust all others must bring data”. In the 1990s, organisations prided themselves as data-driven organisations’ however, even within these cultures, decisions were often made based on the opinions and biases of influential individuals.

One solution to this problem is to use a decision support system (DSS), which can help to streamline the decision-making process and ensure that decisions are based on data and insights. One such DSS is the decision model. A simple decision model can be constructed in Excel to examine different scenarios and gauge the impact of each scenario on a set of output characteristics. (See Figure 1, Using DSS)

Figure 1 Using DSS: Adapted from Byrne (2022)

A decision model is a framework that helps decision-makers to consider the most important variables and factors that should be considered when making a decision. The model is based on a series of what-if inquiries which map out the various paths and outcomes that can result from the different scenarios

One of the key advantages of using a decision model as a DSS is that it helps to eliminate bias and subjectivity from the decision-making process. Using a data-driven approach to decision making, decision-makers can ensure that decisions are based on objective criteria rather than personal opinions or biases.

Another advantage of using a decision model is that it can help to identify areas of uncertainty and risk. By mapping out the various paths and outcomes resulting from different decisions, decision-makers can better understand each option’s potential risks and benefits and make more informed decisions accordingly.

A decision model is a powerful tool that can help organisations to make more informed and effective decisions. By using a data-driven approach and eliminating bias and subjectivity, decision-makers can make the best decisions for their organisation.

“When you can measure what you are speaking about and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind: it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts, advanced to the stage of science, whatever the matter may be.”

(Thomson 1883)

Quote from Popular Lectures and Addresses vol. 1 (1889) ‘Electrical Units of Measurement’, delivered 3 May 1883 William Thomson, Baron Kelvin of Largs, Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Glasgow.


Courtney, H., Lovallo, D. and Clarke, C. (2013) ‘Deciding how to decide’, Harvard Business Review, 91(11), pp. 62–70.

Thomson, W. (1883) ‘Electrical units of measurement’, Popular lectures and addresses, 1(73).

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