Ultimately, we need to take a decision-driven approach that involves creating and utilising credible evidence to reduce the temptation of our cognitive bias, the paralysing effects of uncertainty and our hunger to jump straight into designing solutions.
Sadly, I see little true desire past lip service coming from C-suite on this. I’ve learned that when dealing with “business executives” they don’t want facts, data, or even pre-digested “information”, they want 2–5 bullet points that basically tell them what decision to make. Don’t mistake me, I am not implying that they lack brainpower… but they do lack the time and energy to learn enough about any given decision to make an informed decision. There are simply too many demands on their time.
So what’s the solution? You have to empower the top end of the “rank and file”, the people who live and breathe these issues every day, to make any kind of technical decision and allow the business leaders to focus on the strategy.
Don’t ask them “what should this screen look like?” or even “do you like this screen?” Tell them, “our tests showed that this screen was the best design, do you think it pushes our Project Excalibur initiative hard enough?”
I can’t help but note that every time I’ve asked executives for feedback with an undirected, wide-open format, I get stuff like, “can we get that icon in cornflower blue?” or “is the logo really going to be that small?” and so on… it’s almost entirely about basic design stuff and they never even notice features. Why? Because they don’t have the time to actually spend 3 hours going through the prototype and understanding it, the whole meeting is “shoot from the hip”.
I once had a VP berate me in the middle of a meeting telling me how dumb I was for doing XYZ, why would I ever do that… until I put up on the projector for the room to see his email from the week before telling me to do XYZ. These folks are all running on stream of consciousness because they don’t have the time or the energy to keep more than the last 15 minutes in their buffers.
So given this… as much as my inner nerd likes making fact/data/information driven decisions, I don’t think we can do this while involving business executives. I think we only get there with organizational change that puts the power in the hands of the actual “people in the know”.