When I saw a review of the book “Die Kunst des klugen Handelns” (The Art of Acting Cleverly) which started with the words:

“Try to get through life with a minimum of information. You will make better decisions. What you do not need to know remains worthless even if you are aware of it.”

That got me thinking! When running training sessions I sometimes pose the question “Is it better to make a decision without data or one with data of unknown quality?” to try and get people thinking about decision making and the role that data plays in it.

The full review was published in the Swiss Review and covers the book by Rolf Dobelli where the quotation above apparently appears early in the book. Based on other comments in the review, I am looking forward to getting a copy of the English translation when it appears in Spring 2013.

When discussing this approach I use the analogy of decorating a room – if you know no dimensions, you will estimate the amount of paint needed to price up the job and then measure before purchasing the paint. However, if you had room dimensions where you did not know their accuracy, you may be tempted to buy the paint on the strength of these dimensions – but might be unaware that a room partition had been removed without the data having been updated.

So, how do you respond to the question – Is it better to make a decision without data or one with data of unknown quality?

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