I don’t know about you, but this year’s US presidential election is as gripping as watching the Grand National.

The bookies, or in this case pollsters’ favourite was outflanked early in the race, only to recover neck and neck later on. It’s a long course filled with traps and as we speak, there are still a few hurdles to clear before we can announce the winner. Claims of foul play on the course have already been launched, meaning that if the favourite wins there’s likely to be an inquiry.  

The whole experience has already declared losers, the pollsters who failed to interpret the mood of the country in their predictions. Billions have been spent in the guessing game raising a familiar question, ‘How can the pollsters have got it so wrong?’

In the commons this week Theresa May accused the PM of using numbers to fit the policy, rather than creating policy according to the statistical facts. It was a strong rebuke from the former PM, followed by warnings from the office of National Statistics about the Governments’ use of data in communications to the public.

In our fast-moving world, we are presented with facts and data by the hour. Our decisions big and small are governed by what we believe to be the best version of the truth.

One of the interesting developments is the degree to which predictions can alter behaviour, and therefore the degree to which we should understand exactly how the predictions have been arrived at. This has never been more critical as we need to trust in the facts we are presented with, to change behaviour in the face of the Covid threat. 

Having worked around this area for years, I tend to look closely behind the headlines of ‘80% think that’. Who are the 80%? What were they asked and by whom? What were the actual questions asked? What’s the sample size and where are they based? Does it relate to my life and experience? Kind of the same questions the seasoned gambler would look at behind the odds - form, location, winning history, health, age, jockey, etc. 

As more and more statistics are generated by algorithms, we need to understand even more about what sits behind the decisions that affect our lives.

At a corporate level, failure to understand customer sentiment can be fatal, believing 90% are satisfied when failing to dig deeper leads to strife in many board rooms. How can we have got this so wrong?’ 

This is one of the areas we are tackling head on in our new Scenarios programme which kicks off this month with the influential CCA Visionaries group.

What’s the why that sits behind decision-making for ultimate customer experience? How are we making decisions during difficult times which will affect our chances over the next few years? Who is making better informed decisions and what can we learn from the process? How do you garner accurate customer feedback from a dispersed workforce?

At the end of the day we all wanted to remove the gamble from critical investments whether it’s technology or people. We want to get it as close to reality and evidence as possible. If it’s wrong, we want to be able to know why; learn and fail fast knowing we have a robust decision-making apparatus to guide us. If you’d like to know more about how you can get involved in our Futures Scenarios, get in touch.

Now back to this two-horse race. Surely we must be at the final jump! Whatever your views, may the best man win as they say.

Have a peaceful weekend everyone.

Anne Marie