Yes, Go With Your Gut

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I tend to overthink decisions, only to circle back to the same basic solution that popped into the back of my brain shortly after being presented with the problem.

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Most of us call this "going with our gut," but author Malcolm Gladwell likes to describe it as "instinctive judgment," and it's the subject of his book, "Blink" (as in "blink of an eye"). All of us have some sphere of expertise where we apply this, and we should learn to question it less and listen to it more.

Gladwell was the speaker two weeks ago at the VARBusiness 500 awards ceremony in New York, where he regaled the crowd with his comments on when to trust that judgment in action for a high-stakes decision and when to realize it might be shaded, and therefore not to be trusted.

One comment I felt was particularly pertinent was Gladwell's observation that too much data informing a decision is worse than not enough data. It reminded me that the true value of business intelligence lies in the connections that humans make with data. Gladwell's main example involves emergency room decisions. It appears doctors can more accurately predict an urgent heart condition if they concentrate on three or four data points rather than all the other minutiae their equipment captures.

Earlier that day, I had spent about four hours going through literally 1,050 e-mails that arrived while I was on vacation. (And that was what made it through the spam filter.) Of that correspondence, certainly 80 percent could be deleted or dealt with later in that tag-you're-it style we've all learned so well, but about 150 messages demanded an immediate response.

Moreover, a series involved what for me are high-stakes decisions—my most important journalistic judgment calls are related to which top stories we feature daily online and which news of the week we highlight on our cover. There are some weeks when I just can't explain to the staff why I have to rip up their existing work to replace a topic. I just know it must be done for the sake of our readers, and I have to ignore the arguments of any special interests as to why it should be otherwise.

In your world, of course, your instinct is to act on behalf of your customers. Your challenge is to balance and keep in mind how your vendor relationships shade those decisions.

What clouds your judgment? HEATHER CLANCY, Editor at CRN,
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