What happens when eye-witnesses get it wrong? The case for data driven decision making

Conveying the importance of evidence based decision making, decisions driven by fact, data and analysis, may seem like a no-brainer to some. However, it can often be hard to get past the organisation’s “memories” and “eye-witness” accounts. After all, this “knowledge” comes from the very people who have lived and breathed this organisation for years and years.

I find it is always helpful to have a “non-data” analogy up my sleeve when faced with these speed-bumps and I will certainly add this one to my set!

A recent article by Erica Driver, “Eyewitnesses Get It Wrong: An Argument for Data-Driven Decision Making”, recounts the experience of Scott Fraser, the forensic psychologist who convinced a judge that eyewitness accounts could not be relied upon to support a murder conviction handed down 20 years prior.  Whilst this account may not look like the traditional flag-bearing article for the data-driven decision making movement, Fraser does identify two things as critical for decision making:

  • Hard data: objective rationale comes from hard data, removing the reliance on dynamic, malleable, and volatile “memories”; and
  • Analytical skills: the ability to apply logical thinking to the gathering and assessment of information.

Performance Analytics. Your data. Seen like never before.

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