Every Decision, An Outcome


Intuition, Data, or Experience?

What do you say about discussing influential decision-making in the individual and corporate (company/public) fields mentioning the book (*) “Don’t Trust Your Gut: Using Data to Get What You Really Want in Life”. .? It seems like just the right time for it. Our author, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, is currently an economist, data scientist, New York Times columnist and a lecturer.

We all make decisions in our lives. The degree of importance of these is shaped by the number of situations or people they affect. For example, deciding what to eat for lunch is only your concern, while a restaurant chef’s lunch menu decision concerns all visitors to the restaurant. It is nice if you are happy with the lunch you prepared for yourself, but if you are not, even if you think you’ve made the wrong decision, it’s not a big deal. You can make a better choice tomorrow. But can a chef regain his customers after a bad decision at a restaurant? Maybe yes, most likely no. At this point, we begin to understand the impact areas of decisions. Is it the end of the world for a restaurant that offers a wrong menu? No way. Making better decisions can attract new customers to the restaurant, and the restaurant can even “learn a lesson from the mistake” to serve them better. Basically, the subject of learning from mistakes is to interpret the data correctly and benefit from the resulting interpretations. Author “Seth Stephens Davidowitz” also defines the purpose of his book as using up-to-date datasets to offer a few lessons that will be useful to us no matter what stage of life we are in. This idea is exactly the opposite of Malcolm Gladwell’s decision with intuition suggestion in his book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, which is generally accepted (**). Let’s go into details about effective decision-making in both individual and corporate (company/public) fields… # decision-making #data #psychology #economy #bookreview #datascience

Just like the simple decisions we make to prepare a better meal for ourselves, we can make better decisions with the help of data about situations that affect our entire lives. Stephens-Davidowitz says in his book, that we can polish up the decisions that will be the answers to the questions listed below through data because numbers don’t lie.

     What makes a parent a good parent?

     Why are people rich?

     What are the chances of becoming famous?

     Why are some people unusually lucky?

     Is it possible to foresee a happy marriage?

     What basically makes people happy?

In my opinion, experience is different from intuition. Intuition can be used to complement and meaningfully interpret data. Data can be used to understand whether intuition is correct or misleading. Experience consists of all of these.

Good decisions often include the following criteria:

1. Being goal-oriented

2. Being based on knowledge

3. Making comparisons

4. Calculating risk(s)

Bad decisions often include:

1. Hypersensitivity

2. Insufficient information

3. Hastiness

4. Taking excessive risk(s)

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett describes whom one marries as the most important decision in life. So, how can we achieve more successful results in the decision of “marriage” which is one of the most complex relationship dynamics a person can have, through data? While this was not the subject of science in the past, very extensive research is being carried out today.

As a result, it has been revealed that “romantic human relationships are unpredictable, and a definite conclusion cannot be reached through certain models.”

Artificial intelligence that can easily beat the best chess players in the world today can reliably predict social unrest five days in advance based on personal comments on the Internet and can warn people against Parkinson disease according to the odors they emit; Yet, it was insufficient to measure the potential to be happy in the relationships of two people who have united their lives. Now, how do you interpret that…

At the end of the chapter, the author concludes, saying, “No one/nothing can make you truly happy until you are happy with yourself first.”

Well, can we trust the data on the not-easy topic of “parenting”?

The statistics say: Parents who make great decisions are 26% effective in their children’s success. When we think about the tens of thousands of decisions we have made, we realize that our individual decisions are not that important.

So, what is the most important decision we can make as a parent? The most important thing we can do is to choose the people who interact with the child and are in the same environment and present them as the right model for the child. The following African proverb shared by the author is noteworthy: “A whole village raises a child.”

Studies have found that most wealthy citizens in the United States own a business. So, they are not salaried. This is a research result specific to the U.S.A. We do not have any research result in Turkey, but when I look at the professions that are not likely to be rich, I can say that the situation is different for us. I would like to emphasize it again to avoid misunderstandings. There is no formula that we can state for sure in business life; we make decisions and strive to make processes seamless, even perfect. Here, the skills and motivations of our employees, and the policies we adopt as companies play a major role in “success”; There are no sectors that have prerequisites for “enrichment.” The prerequisite for success, and therefore for economic success, is hard work/perseverance and competence. Stephens Davidowitz says the formula for success is in the data.

Can I Turn the Luck Factor in My Favor?

Stephens-Davidowitz provides valuable information on this topic called Picasso’s Rule, which is statistically supported by a lot of data.

The research of Dean Simonton, a distinguished professor of psychology at the University of California, reveals a clear conclusion. Artists who produce more work tend to reach success more. This result is supported by the data in the famous book “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World” by organizational psychologist Adam Grant. (I have previously included a book by Adam Grant on the subject of prejudice: )

Shakespeare wrote 37 plays in twenty years, Beethoven has more than 600 works, and Bob Dylan has written over 500 songs. Picasso has published more than 1,800 paintings and 12,000 drawings. You have to produce a lot to stand out. In this way, you can turn the luck factor that will carry you forward in your favor.

Alexander Todorov, a professor at the University of Chicago, is one of the world’s foremost facial experts. He explores how much a person’s facial appearance affects that person’s success in various areas. The result of his research reveals two conclusions:

1-How you look is very important.

2-You can easily change how you look.

When he says that you can easily change how you look, the author does not mention aesthetic operations. You can have a more “competent” look by making small changes in your smile, adjusting the angle of the light, changing your beard and haircut and keeping it organized, or re-evaluating your glasses preference.

Nearing the end of the book, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz has searched for an answer to the question , “What makes one happy?” which many philosophers has been looking for an answer for years.  He gave the results of Project Mappiness, where George MacKerron and Susana Mourato immediately asked people questions while using their iPhones. People answered the questions, “Who are you with? What are you doing? And how happy are you?” instantly asked on a scale of “0 to 100”. According to this research, the activities that do not make us as happy and happy as we think are:

Activities That Don’t Make Us as Happy as We Think

• Sleeping/Resting/Relaxing

• Computer Games/iPhone Games

• Meal/snack

• Watching T.V./Movies

• Surfing on the Internet

Activities That Make Us Happier Than We Think

• Exhibition/Museum/Library

• Sports/Running/Exercise

• Gardening

• Hunting/Fishing

• Shopping/Daily Affairs

All the information shared by the author is the result of a research belonging to a different culture. We are all unique; we all think differently and enjoy different things. Our past lives, skills, and motivations are different from each other.

As a person who trusts my intuition, I benefited from this book published by an author whose main idea is “Don’t trust your intuition.” However, my advice to you would be to evaluate the valuable information shared here by reflecting on it and passing it through the filter of your own intuition. What is good for someone may be bad for you. Even worse, what you pursue by accepting that it is “good” and convincing yourself of it may not make you happy when you finally get it.

Institutional and Public Decisions

Meanwhile, decision-making also has an institutional aspect. In our work, we, our managers, make decisions that are based on data, but decision-makers also need to act quickly, using their intuition and experience. To achieve this, we use authority/responsibility matrices (R.A.C.I.). It is a system that explains in writing who is Responsible, who is Accountable, who is Consulted, who is Informed, and the monetary limit of the powers and whether they are used singularly or jointly. Many private companies also use this model. At the beginning of the Covid19 epidemic, in an article I read in a bulletin of McKinsey, it was written that public institutions should also switch to this method in order to make quick decisions (***). Indeed, all over the world and in our country, public policymakers and practitioners need to improve their decision-making abilities.

In summary, the article said:

During the Covid19 crisis, we all witnessed that all official and unofficial institutions had to make quick and accurate decisions. According to McKinsey’s research, managers spend only 30% of their time making decisions. 60% of respondents say they use this time ineffectively. In the public sector, written opinions are often requested from all parties in order to establish a “common base” which leads to a waste of time. In fact, no one undertakes the business, and the control of everything is left to the top manager. This is an impossible load to manage!

However, we all need to make agile and effective decisions. Sometimes people need public services more, so leaders can’t tolerate decision delays. McKinsey actually proposes an authorization-approval matrix system that consists of 5 steps for the leaders of public institutions to make quick and effective decisions:

Clearly define decision makers and empower them to implement. Create a system such as decision-makers, consultants, advisers, and practitioners (K.D.T.U., R.A.C.I.), and determine who will decide, who will do what.

Declare this system and empower and support decision-makers. Make and explain the necessary corrections in operation; Resolve emerging conflicts, clear bottlenecks, and break institutional resistance!

Clearly define the roles of the referred, and set up a new, agile meeting setup. It would be helpful to create a forum where people can enter a room together and resolve the issue.

Assemble an agile senior leadership team to eliminate bottlenecks and adapt to difficult decisions. This team should address only the most critical, cross-cutting issues facing the organization and those that cannot be quickly resolved at lower levels. As part of the discussion, ensure that the senior leadership team agrees on how decisions will be cascaded and supported by all senior leaders; Doing so will provide transparency and support across the organization, increase and accelerate decision adoption, and help the leadership team speak with one voice.

Identify database-driven and result-oriented key metrics to increase decision-making speed. Private sector companies have clear metrics they use to measure performance down to the bottom unit. Is performance more difficult to define in the public sector? But it is still very important and possible. It is necessary to begin by setting unifying target outcomes that government officials understand and support (for example, service delivery or citizen experience) and disseminate established success metrics downwards across the organization to define performance. Review performance on these metrics regularly (for example, monthly) and use this data to make decisions on issues such as resource and talent allocation. When a team member proposes a new or alternative option for a decision, consider how it will help the organization improve performance on its goals.

It is certain that taking these five steps, that is, implementing the authority approval matrices, KPI, and O.K.R. systems that we apply, will make public leaders more successful in making faster, agile, and ultimately effective decisions. Thus, social development and progress are ensured. Here too, if you ask whether intuition is important or data, it is, of course, important to look at data in management, but it is not possible to underestimate the power of intuition.


(*) Stephens-Davidowitz, S. (2022). Don’t Trust Your Gut: Using Data to Get What You Really Want in Life, Harper Collins, pp.320.

(**) Gladwell, M. (2022), Blink, The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Mediacat, pp. 268.


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