Opinion or Science?

opinion versus science

Annoyed by decisions based on opinions rather than facts?

Are decisions in your organization based on the opinion of the highest ranked, the loudest or the easiest available person? Or by role based responsibilities?

This often occur with e.g. 

  • UI design decisions, such as colors or UI elements
  • Decisions on information-architecture
  • Decisions on wording and text
  • Decisions about research activities, such as surveys or usability tests,
  • Strategic decisions, such as workshop agendas or moderations 

It is necessary that some person is responsible and accountable for the outcome of a decision. BUT that does not mean that this persons opinion is “correct”. It only means that this person should have the best available inputs (e.g. science, measurable facts) at hand when making decision. Only then can the person make the best possible decision based on that inputs.

When it comes to human behaviour aspects, people are very often ignorant of the available science. But including scientific insights in respective decisions is an immense asset: It bases decisions on more valid grounds.

Here are two examples:

Uninstall a feature? You need to deside wether a new feature in your accounting system shall be uninstalled. You are considering this because  log files show that almost none of your empoyees use it – although it would make some crucial tasks more efficient.  No simple survey will explain you why that is so. You might come up with an opinion, but you cannot really tell. But if you consider psychological science on the Law of instrument, Confirmation and Consistency biasis or the Framing effects (to name a view) and thereby ask very differently, you will very likely learn what is going on. And then you can base you decision on better grounds.

Unexpected, false survey results? The data that resulted from a survey amongst a well-defined user group is completely unexpected and you feel that something might have been wrong with the questioning. Looking at the questions you cannot detect anything wrong. You might come up with an opinion, but you cannot really tell. But if you consider psychological science on Mental models, Priming or Memory reconstruction (to name a view) you will very likely understand where the survey was methodologically incorrect.



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