Decisions Powered By Data and Context

Posted on August 24, 2021 by Matthew Uycoque | Estimated Read Time: 3 Minutes

Imagine you’ve been tasked to come up with a decision that will either skyrocket or plummet the business’ future. Will you rely on intuition alone, or will you use data before making a decision?

Moments like these can be very crucial for an organization’s success. Often, this is a hit-or-miss affair, where one decision could pave the way for progress or failure. Fortunately, all of us have an asset that we can utilize anytime to come up with better decisions - and that is our past.

Historical data (whether it may be personal or business-related) gives us key insights about what can be improved. Trends and patterns become our outline towards assessing and anticipating change.

But there is one problem we often face when coming up with data-driven decisions, and that is lack of context. In an era where data has been proven to be one of the most valuable assets to ever exist, some wrong arguments may be perceived to be correct simply because it is presented with data even though there are shortcomings in the analysis of what the data conveys.

For us to utilize historical data in the most accurate way possible, we need to ask the right questions, avoid extrapolating conclusions, and present our findings in the simplest way possible. The complexity bias that is present in our society needs a little bit of tweaking, and we cannot always ignore what simple solutions can bring to the table.

So how do we harness the power of context?

The good news is that there are many options you can choose from. Ranging from using readily available tools on the web, up to seeking advice from data-focused firms, but what’s more important is asking questions like ‘where does context come from?’ and ‘why is it important in business?’


In Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘The Tipping Point’, he defines the Power of Context as the environment in which the message or idea delivered can have a huge impact on whether enough people adopt and spread it to create an epidemic. He also adds that we need to change how the message is received because human behavior is greatly affected by the context of our environments.

And so when coming up with decisions, data is important, but so is context. The right decision wouldn’t have a sustainable impact if it’s not well communicated to the other end, and we have to acknowledge that the environment we find ourselves in, alters how we act and percept information.

So the next time you are asked to come up with a critical decision, consider looking in the past, and you might find patterns that you never know might have existed, discover trends that might help you anticipate future events, and lastly, do not leave the intuition behind - because this reveals who we are and the knowledge that we have gained, which allows us to set the context in the best way possible and communicate as to how humans do.

References: Malcolm, G. (2000). The Tipping Point. Little, Brown and Company, Tiempo Development (2020). The Business Benefits of Data Analytics. 3Pillar Global Economy, FS Blog (2021). Complexity Bias: Why We Prefer Complicated to Simple.