Presenting fact-based recommendations and making it clear when we're only expressing our opinions seems like an obvious organizational value. Yet we see many organizations driving decisions based on reactions to opinions, long-held beliefs, or episodes rather than facts.
A public agency reacting to perceptions of safety due to a particularly bad accident. Another agency losing funding because of a politicized capital project. Saying things like “we need more money” without fully articulating values and benefits. Is your organization driven by facts or opinions?
Here are three questions to help you understand if your teams are fact-based or opinion-driven:
What is driving your agenda?
Does your organization have clearly defined outcomes that are objectively measurable? Are your work plans and activities organized around accomplishing those outcomes? Or are you reacting to headlines, political whimsy, customer and Board complaints? When organizations fail to clearly define success for themselves...other people will. And their opinions are rarely fact based and your organization is burning energy chasing someone else’s agenda.
Are you really data-driven?
Your organization has mounds of data. What are you doing with it? If your organization is using data to inform decisions to improve performance and outcomes, then you’re on the right track for fact based decisions. If you’re using your data to report what’s going on, but not making decisions to improve outcomes...then what’s the point of collecting data? Your organization may actually be running on gut instinct, which is nothing more than an opinion.
How do your teams communicate with each other?
“We need more money.” It may be true, but can you prove it? How does an organization come to this conclusion? It can be the opinion inside of an organization that drives mantras like this, but without a factual basis. The difference between, “I think we need more money,” and “We need more money,” is subtle, but important. Opinions have value in organizational decision making to suggest and test ideas, but pursuing root causes and fact based solutions is best practice that will set your teams up for long-term success.
Look at our case studies to see some organizations that challenged their notions of pursuing fact-based decisions.