Designer + data = death?


I’ve had several conversations with people around the idea that big data is no longer as effective in decision-making. Or at the least, we're placing too much emphasis on it. Instead of working through a decision based upon a feeling, or experience, some folks these days are asking, well, what does the data say?

Now, I have nothing against data. It has done wonders in a multitude of areas, specifically in the healthcare world. It helps to reveal trends and it gives insight into things that were previously unknown. Here’s my proposal though, let’s put the feel back in decision-making. What does your gut say? You know, that little voice nagging at you. I think it somehow already knows what you need to do.  Maybe though, you’ve been listening to data for so long that little voice is much too hard to hear. So here’s what I think you should do:


1. Remove the fear of right and wrong

There’s only one choice, and that’s the one you’re about to make. Stop focusing on whether its right or wrong. To be vulnerable for a moment, I worry about what people will think if I make the wrong choice. Maybe that’s you too. Let’s stop it together. Shoot, what’s the worst thing that could really happen from making the wrong decision? If you answer, I could die. I guess you won’t have to worry about the decision any more.


2. Tap into your intuition

Think back to multiple choice questions on tests in school. It’s said that your first choice is probably the correct one. Well, this is where you exercise that. As I alluded to above, your intuition already seems to know more than you give it credit; it seems to tap into the ether and is in tune with infinite intelligence. And then comes the hard part, putting what you now know is the choice into action. Lean on your intuition this week.


3. Be vulnerable

Working in a competitive space like healthcare and the fact that I’m a dude, makes vulnerability historically an improbability. I’m not referring to oversharing, which I do my fair share of as well, but real vulnerability. It’s the kind that says, I’m not sure why I made that decision. Or, the other dreaded phrase, I don’t know. You could easily lie to yourself and say, I say I don’t know all the time. Okay, that’s fair. But when is the last time you said it when you’re deep into a project that you should know like the back of your hand, and somehow you’re not sure what the answer is, and you draw a blank on an answer. You still pull something out of thin air, all while thinking I have no idea what I said just now? It can be as simple as catching yourself before you try to answer, and simply say, I’m not sure.


Many times, I design based on feel. I get asked the “why" question a lot, and I can’t always answer. Why did you choose that button, or that color, Justin? Not sure. It just felt right, I reply. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this. In fact, I seem to freeze up when I have too much data or information to go off. So this period in my life, I’m cool with feel-based decision-making. I think big data has its place, but I’m going to place less priority on it.