Decisions without Data

Starting any business (or any new project) will inevitably force you to make tough decisions.  For instance deciding on what products to launch, what targets need to be set, how much money is needed, or what price points to set are all part of the startup decision process.  At BrightGauge, being an analytics platform, we’re inherently “data people” so we often try to use as much data as possible to support any decisions we make.  

For the startups fanatics out there, this means we follow the Lean Startup Methodology.   We test each hypothesis with as much data as possible and try to minimize the feedback loop to get each decision right as fast as possible.

The hardest decisions, though, seem to be the ones where there isn’t really any hard data or evidence to support a decision.  And I’ve found that most of these “decisions without data” are typically people related or culture related which we all know are very critical for any company, especially a young or small company.  

So what do we (not just BrightGauge, but all companies) do in these instances?

From our perspective, we’ve had to make some tough personnel decisions lately and we think good long term decisions.  But there’s no quick feedback loop or data to support this was the right move….just gut feel and lots of time letting things marinate.  Is this the right approach for personnel decisions?  I’m not entirely sure but from everyone I’ve talked with (that have more experience than me) seems to say this is all that we can do as leaders of a small team.  

For a data guy….this is frustrating.  Perhaps there are some good analytical approaches I haven’t come across for personnel decisions?