Since the age of caves, and probably before, humans have recognised the power of social networks, division of labour, and careful consideration and observation of their surroundings. People that didn’t collect salient, risk and time dependent information, were the ones that were either eaten, didn’t eat, or froze. The ones that lived, our predecessors, were the ones that made good decisions.

The mental leap I’m asking you to make when reading this post, is to consider our predecessors, and what they had to do to survive and get us to where we are now. How does this apply to the modern-day context where we need to build for the future, implement solutions, run large and complex organisations, and resolve ambiguous socio-economic issues with the aim of improving the well-being of New Zealanders?

Personally, I do not think a lot has changed. While we no longer run around chasing mammoth, conceptually we still have the same problems to solve, namely: how do we survive, and how do we thrive?

Surviving and thriving requires good, timely data driven decisions.

Making good decisions in turn requires timely, relevant and accurate information. The information needs to be good enough to mitigate whatever risk or opportunity the decision-makers are facing.

Our decisions need:

  • to stand up to scrutiny and provide assurance that the problem was considered from the widest possible range of viewpoints
  • for complex socio-economic policy and organisational settings to be less instinctive and gut feel, more data driven and logical
  • to provide adequate risk and assurance, and
  • to be auditable and defendable and stand the test of time.

Sometimes it’s about going slower to go faster, especially for collective buy-in leading to cooperative change to both business and society. Data driven decisions and evidence informed policy can enable better overall outcomes for New Zealand, so let’s strive for that in our daily efforts.