Insight to Action Blog #2: Conversations between decision makers and analysts

The second in a series of blogs on Insight to Action by the Midlands Decision Support Network

A picture of lucy hawkins
Lucy Hawkins, the Strategy Unit

The quality of the analyst-decision maker relationship really matters when it comes to the translation of insights to action. Too often we hear of analysts feeling stuck in a corner, asked a question but not really knowing what it’s going to be used for. Alternatively, decision makers asking for data but then finding it doesn’t quite give them the right answer.

Now this is a call for both analysts and decision makers (I use both terms in the broadest sense) in organisations – get to know one another!

Relationships where you know the other person’s skills and knowledge, but also context and challenges, can help bridge the gap between the demand and supply of analysis. So, what can be done to enable this?

Analysts, put yourselves out there and ask the challenging questions. Take charge of the problem structuring process and help people to think through what they really want to know and why. Challenge them to think through what they are going to do with the information when they have it, what action will they take?

Decision makers, find your analysts and bring them into the fold. Not just as number crunchers but experts in their field. They know what data is available, what they can do with it, and how it can help your problem. Go to them with an open and questioning mind, you might be surprised what comes back.

Without establishing relationships, analysts might find themselves feeling like a drunken cowboy just firing facts at people. On the other hand, decision makers may be expecting a map maker to point them in the right direction, ending up frustrated when the data doesn’t give them all the directions that they need.

By opening up the dialogue between analysts and decision makers we can improve the translation of insights into action. Therefore, ensuring that we are making evidence-based decisions, improving outcomes for the people we serve.