Business Decisions Often Need to Be Made Before You Have Much Data

McGrathRitaGunther2010-01-27.jpgRita Gunther McGrath is a member of the faculty of the Columbia Business School. Source of photo: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.

(p. R2) BUSINESS INSIGHT: You and Prof. Ian C. MacMillan of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania wrote a book called “Discovery-Driven Growth.” What is discovery-driven growth?

DR. MCGRATH: Discovery-driven growth is a way of planning to grow that doesn’t require a lot of analytical information at the outset. It recognizes that many of the data that you need to make decisions don’t exist at the time that you have to make the decisions. It’s a plan to learn.
I think we all live with a conceptual overhang from an industrial era when things were more predictable. You had big production runs. At least if you were an American company, you had a lot of markets with very little competition, and what competition there was was more or less predictable. In many businesses you could use the past as an adequate guide to what the future held for you.
In more and more industries, those conditions no longer apply. You’re seeing temporary advantages, very rapid swings in who’s on top competitively, new technologies that make older ones irrelevant at an ever-faster clip–the usual litany of things people moan about today. But I think one of the things that has not yet quite been fully recognized is that these have an impact on our management processes–or should.

For the full interview, see:
Martha E. Mangelsdorf. “Executive Briefing; Learning From Corporate Flops; When starting new ventures, companies should revisit their assumptions early and often.” The Wall Street Jounal (Mon., OCTOBER 26, 2009): R2.
(Note: italics in original.)


Source of book image:

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