How Do You Make Decisions?

How do you make decisions?  Gut instinct or fact based analysis?  That was the question asked a business panel at a conference I recently attended.

I was shocked by the first two panelists answers:  “Gut Instinct”.

  • Did they not have access to data?  I find that impossible to believe given that it now takes 2 days to create as much data as we did from the dawn of man through 2003!
  • Did they not believe in the power of analytics?  I mean, come on, haven’t they seen Moneyball?  It is a great example of using analytical data to help you win….and Brad Pitt is in it!
  • Did they not have the right data/analytics they could believe in? I find that amusing given they were there as SAP’s customer examples.
  • Were they that egotistical to believe they know best over fact based analysis?

This caused me to reflect on my past decision making.  I was reminded of a life changing decision I made almost 20 years ago….

At the age of 23, I hated my job and applied to business school.  At the age of 24, Wharton called and accepted me.  Like most twenty somethings, my life had drastically changed in five months…I now had a job I really liked.  Should I go?  I did what all dumb kids do:  I called my Dad for advice.  My Dad, one of the smartest, most analytical people I know, told me to make a pro/con list and build a cost benefit analysis.  This would give me my answer.

While I was building my spreadsheet, my Dad called back.  He had spoken with my Mother (the emotional rock in our family).  She said to throw the spreadsheet out the window and follow my heart.

I did both.  I built the spreadsheet.  I understood it and then made an informed decision based on my instincts.

This is exactly what the third panelist said:  “I make decisions based on informed gut instinct”.  I agree.

How do you make decisions?


  1. Greg says


    i thought this was advice you got after watching ‘Tree of Life’, but I’m sure Brad Pitt was great in ‘Moneyball’, too.

    i like SAP, but not necessarily Oracle, but having worked for IBM, i like to see all of its issue succeed which also includes Microsoft.

    many happy blog posts!

  2. says


    Love the story. And I’m with you. I spend time gathering as much data as the situation allows and then I allow my mind to pull it all together subconsciously. This means that sometimes I make decisions that I “just know” are right but I have come to trust my instinct.

    And I think you made a great decision to start blogging. I am thrilled to see another colleague telling their stories.

    Best, Michael

  3. says


    great topic. It reminds me of one of Malcom Gladwell’s books where he discusses that “expertise” can allow people to make a decision in seconds without spending hours or days on research.

    I like your approach of gathering the facts and then making the final decision based on gut. After all, there are very few real facts, when it comes down to it; mostly assumptions and subjective perceptions of the truth.

    Best, great blog,


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