“Our ability to acquire data has greatly outstripped our ability to analyze it in a productive way,” says Bob Clemen, professor of decision sciences at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

Data sets can contradict each other, imploring managers to inject even more data into the process. Eventually, there’s a point of diminishing returns. “The research shows that when you add information, it improves the quality up to a point that’s reached very quickly,” says Gary Klein, author of The Power of Intuition: How to Use Your Gut Feelings to Make Better Decisions at Work and chief scientist at Klein Associates, a Fairborn, Ohio, firm that coaches companies on decision-making processes. “And then the additional information seems to improve quality hardly at all.”

Still, data - and lots of it - can be a warm security blanket for management teams. Jonathan Kramer, principal of Business Psychology Consulting in San Diego, sees entrepreneurs obsessing most over financial decisions. “They’re trying to get as much information as they possibly can to make sure they make the right decision,” he says. “They kind of get lost in it.” Sometimes, he adds, leaders use data collection to avoid making hard decisions.

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