Data is in vogue. It is being used everywhere and for everything. In sport every single thing an athlete does from their heart rate to their passing and shooting accuracy is measured and analysed while in business, and procurement in particular, the performance of staff, products and suppliers are all monitored and scrutinised to the nth degree.
There is no doubt that product quality is improved and more informed, less risky decisions are made as a result of such analysis, but does that mean you should ignore your own or indeed your team’s instinct?
There was a time, before computers, smartphones and the internet when all someone in business had to go on was their instincts, or what is otherwise known their inbuilt nose for a good deal.
There was an inherent risk in all deals. Businesses and business leaders knew this but were willing to take those risks because they were confident in the team’s knowledge and the lessons they had learnt from past experiences. Mistakes are a crucial part of business life, people learn from them. If you don’t have the opportunity to make those mistakes then development can be stunted.
Nowadays decisions are increasingly being taken on the basis of what the data says. Buyers know from the touch of a button what the financial health of a supplier is, their CSR and delivery performance, where any goods are at that exact moment in time, the efficiency of the delivery vehicle and driver as well as the potential for any delays.
Instinct is being taken out of these decisions and buyers aren’t being encouraged to use it because no one is going to listen to what instinct is saying when the data is saying something else.
There is something to be said for allowing buyers a little bit of space to use their instinct. I’m not saying ignore data, can it really judge the personal relationship a buyer has with a supplier? Can data really understand the trust that has been built up over many years? Can it know those intangibles like a few words of advice over the telephone or a conversation that led to a product innovation?
Does it really know your suppliers better than your buyers do? No.
A balance needs to be struck between analysing data and using that knowledge and instinct that naturally exists in buyers. Failure to do so will not only stunt the development of your team but you may also end up ignoring value, even if that may only be risky, tiny grains, of value.
Success and failure can come down to such fine margins so ignore your instinct at your peril.