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Survey: Employees trust gut more than data

Most businesses are unable to take advantage of data assets to create a competitive edge or boost corporate performance because the majority of employees don't have the necessary skills to make good business decisions, according to a new survey.

The Corporate Executive Board’s survey of 5,000 workers at international companies reveals that an “insight deficit” is emerging because “employees fail to complement data with the necessary judgment to arrive at optimal conclusions.”

And that lack of judgment affects everyone in the food chain: CEB found that the insight deficit was particularly common among managers, with more than 50 percent of senior managers having insufficient analytical skills.

The research shows that 43 percent of employees trust data without questioning the results. Nearly 20 percent choose to trust their gut feeling instead of data-driven insights, and only 38 percent of the average workforce today consists of individuals with strong analytical skills. CEB has dubbed this cohort "Informed Skeptics."

To overcome the insight deficit, CEB suggests that executives begin cultivating Informed Skeptics across their organizations by:

  • Hiring more employees with analytical skills.
  • Educating employees on the limitations of data and encouraging them to ask critical questions.
  • Creating an analytical training curriculum to support employees.
  • Building a team of coaches.
  • Formalizing decision processes and making performance metrics transparent.

Does the same situation exist in government? The CEB survey didn't consider government organizations, but what have you observed? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

Posted by Camille Tuutti on Sep 07, 2011 at 12:19 PM


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Reader comments

Thu, Sep 8, 2011

The public education system is weak on teaching critical thinking skills and strong on teaching test taking skills. It's no wonder people are relying on data (i.e. knowledge needed to answer standard multiple choice questions) not thinking through the situation at hand and whether or not the available data is an accurate reflection of the situation.

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