As a business leader, you’re constantly being challenged to make complex decisions in a fast-paced, rapidly changing landscape.
But to do this, you need more than factual data points. After all, if there were an easy answer, someone else in your company would have (hopefully) found it already. On the other hand, making knee-jerk decisions based on your intuition alone could permanently harm your company.
Instead, you need a combination of hard data, trend insights, and intuitive discernment — you need high-quality industry information.
What is high-quality information?
High-quality information is both factual and relevant. It’s the intelligence you need when questions without simple “yes” or “no” answers bubble up through your organization. Here are three example situations:
- The CEO of a software company believes that acquiring a small startup will add value for a specific niche within his market, increasing his company’s net worth. He’s tasked one of his researchers to pull data for him, but he wants to know more about the nuances of this particular niche before he makes a decision.
- The director of global operations for an international consulting firm feels pressure from a major client who she believes is too aggressive on pricing. Her gut is that the firm would ultimately save money by dropping the client, but she needs more than instinct when she makes that recommendation to her executive leadership team.
- The founder of a rapidly expanding privately held manufacturing operation has observed tension among his factory workers. As his company has grown, so has resentment from legacy employees who now report to outside managerial hires. He wonders if restructuring the organization would minimize the internal conflicts that threaten to restrict the company’s future growth.
None of these situations have simple answers, but with high-quality information, the best options can come to light. It complements a leader’s career experiences and professional instincts and offers valuable insights into market behavior, helping him or her arrive at better decisions and execute business goals more effectively.
Most importantly, it offers a depth of perspective that objective data simply can’t provide.
Accessing high-quality information
High-quality information comes from multiple sources: personal experiences, internal research, input from friends and colleagues, advisory relationships with experts, etc. When working with researchers and experts, it’s important to apply a few best practices to ensure that you get accurate, relevant input.
- Provide explicit guidelines. Your research team needs specific guidelines on the scope of their research. Do your best to explain how their work will affect the bigger picture. Make sure they realize that inaccurate data isn’t acceptable and can actually hurt the company. Employees are more motivated when they know that their contributions serve a larger mission.
- Gather firsthand knowledge. Even if you have an exceptional research team, certain insights can only be gained from extensive personal experiences. By speaking to well-vetted industry experts, you can collect intelligence that goes beyond quantitative research. An expert should be credible with considerable experience in the field.
- Fact-check everything. An expert should be able to provide references and a background check to establish credibility. An interview is an excellent way to ensure he understands your business, and using a job description will crosscheck the expert’s opinions against internal research and perspectives.
Good decisions aren’t all about the facts. Rather, high-quality information that comes from your personal experiences, professional acquaintances, researchers, and expert advisers will advance your company’s interests and establish you as a true industry thought leader. And at the end of the day, that’s the real value of high-quality information.
Stirling Cox is the managing director of AlphaSights, a company that connects today’s business leaders with the insight and expertise they need to prosper. The company assists a global client base, including private equity firms, asset managers, strategy consultancies, and corporate executives, in making more informed decisions.
If you enjoyed this article, join SmartBrief’s e-mail list for our daily newsletter on being a better, smarter leader.