May 20, 2009

Analytics Versus Creativity

This is an interesting blog posting by Mark Ritson of Branding Strategy Insider.  It dives into the debate of "are we going to far with data-driven decision making?"  Are organizations such as Google ignoring the qualitative when up against the quantitative?

In the fundraising industry, qualitative strategies have historically guided the process.  Even campaign goals are more often set by gut instinct an in reaction to peer institutions.  They may or may not be grounded in reality.  

In recent years, there is a pronounced shift to incorporating data into the decision making process.  From prospect identification, to staff management, to direct marketing segmentation, nonprofits are finding data is making the difference and especially so in this uncertain economy.  Efficiencies and program productivity are more important now than ever.  I am excited that analytics is providing hope and optimism.  I am not convinced we are erring on the side of data yet in fundraising as is suggested of these other organizations.

From the article:

30 Seconds On…Analytics Versus Creativity

    * 'A big part of our innovation process is iteration. We try something, get a lot of feedback, then try something new. We let the maths and the data govern how things look and feel.' Marissa Mayer, vice-president of search, Google

    * 'You can't just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they'll want something new.' Steve Jobs, chief executive, Apple

    * 'Long-gone is the day of the gut-instinct management style. Today's business leaders are adopting algorithmic decision-making techniques and using highly sophisticated software to run their organisations.' Ian Davis, worldwide managing director, McKinsey

    * 'Let me suggest an alternative trend - the rise of heuristics over algorithms; qualitative over quantitative research; judgement over analytics; creativity over crunching. Smart executives are recognising that the analytic approach to business has overreached.' Professor Roger Martin, dean, Rotman School of Management

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