Analytics translators wanted, algorithm vs. human, and winning with diversity.
data translators

1. Hire analytics translators → Keep data scientists happy An emerging role – what some call the Analytics Translator – is offloading burden from data scientists, while helping business executives get better value from their technology investments. A recent HBR piece explains You Don’t Have to Be a Data Scientist to Fill This Must-Have Analytics […]

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Cognitive bias in algorithms, baseball analytics denied, and soft skills ROI.

1. Recognize bias → Create better algorithms Can we humans better recognize our biases before we turn the machines loose, fully automating them? Here’s a sample of recent caveats about decision-making fails: While improving some lives, we’re making others worse. Yikes. From HBR, Hiring algorithms are not neutral. If you set up your resume-screening algorithm […]

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Long-term thinking, systems of intelligence, and the dangers of sloppy evidence.
Behavioral decision science

1. Long view → Better financial performance. A McKinsey Global Institute team sought hard evidence supporting their observation that “Companies deliver superior results when executives manage for long-term value creation,” resisting pressure to focus on quarterly earnings (think Amazon or Unilever). So MGI developed the corporate horizon index, or CHI, to compare performance by firms […]

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Underwriters + algorithms, avoiding bad choices, and evidence for rare illness.

1. Underwriters + algorithms = Best of both worlds. We hear so much about machine automation replacing humans. But several promising applications are designed to supplement complex human knowledge and guide decisions, not replace them: Think primary care physicians, policy makers, or underwriters. Leslie Scism writes in the Wall Street Journal that AIG “pairs its […]

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Algorithm reluctance, home-visit showdown, and the problem with wearables.

Hello there. We had to step away from the keyboard for awhile, but we’re back. And yikes, evidence-based decisions seem to be taking on water. Decision makers still resist handing the car keys to others, even when machines make better predictions. And government agencies continue to, ahem, struggle with making evidence-based policy.  — Tracy Altman, editor 1. Evidence-based […]

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Valuing patient perspective, moneyball for tenure, visualizing education impacts.

1. Formalized decision process → Conflict about criteria It’s usually a good idea to establish a methodology for making repeatable, complex decisions. But inevitably you’ll have to allow wiggle room for the unquantifiable or the unexpected; leaving this gray area exposes you to criticism that it’s not a rigorous methodology after all. Other sources of […]

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Building trust with evidence-based insights.

This week we examine how executives can more fully grasp complex evidence/analysis affecting their outcomes – and how analytics professionals can better communicate these findings to executives. Better performance and more trust are the payoffs. 1. Show how A → B. Our new guide to Promoting Evidence-Based Insights explains how to engage stakeholders with a […]

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When nudging fails, defensive baseball stats, and cognitive bias cheat sheet.

1. When nudging fails, what else can be done? Bravo to @CassSunstein, co-author of the popular book Nudge, for a journal abstract that is understandable and clearly identifies recommended actions. This from his upcoming article Nudges that Fail: "Why are some nudges ineffective, or at least less effective than choice architects hope and expect? Focusing primarily […]

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Social program science, gut-bias decision test, and enough evidence already.

“The driving force behind MDRC is a conviction that reliable evidence, well communicated, can make an important difference in social policy.” -Gordon L. Berlin, President, MDRC 1. Slice of the week: Can behavioral science improve the delivery of child support programs? Yes. Understanding how people respond to communications has improved outcomes. State programs supplemented heavy […]

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Social determinants of health, nonfinancial performance metrics, and satisficers.

Dear reader: Insights Weekly is starting a new chapter. Our spotlight topics are now accompanied by a ‘newsletter’ version of a PepperSlice, the capsule form of evidence-based analysis we’ve created at Let me know what you think, and thanks for your continued readership. – Tracy Altman, Ugly Research 1. Is social services spending associated […]

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