The importance of insight in decision making

Indecision is the thief of opportunity: it will steal you blind, said Cicero, in part. Theodore Roosevelt said it differently, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”


Errors and miscalculations can always be corrected once your mistake has been discovered and you should then be better informed from the (painful) lessons learned to make an improved decision. Indecision however, will leave you wallowing and going nowhere, not knowing what to fix because you cannot fix a mistake that wasn’t made; neither can you understand if you have made the right decision. We learn from experience, which all too often comes from making the wrong decision.


The decision-making processes require that you have access to information, insight, differing viewpoints and systems when you need them, as well as an intuitive feel for when there is no data available. Your intuition will be guided largely by your experience and the values that you hold true, for yourself and your business.


In today’s world we have an abundant amount of information at our fingertips, yet it is becoming increasingly difficult to establish what can and can’t be trusted. It is said that truth is the first casualty of war – meaning that both sides will seek to portray their perspective as being right, from a moral and ethical perspective, and that facts and truth will have little bearing on that. The caution for you as a practice owner (or individual), is to avoid being selective with the facts in your decision-making because of the way you may want things to be.


The past 18 months have brought with them an increased level of uncertainty, which has consequently compounded and increased the pressure on making the ‘right’ decision. Making decisions under stress, duress and uncertainty is a component of business and it is far more rewarding and satisfying walking towards, and through the uncertainty and challenges, than it is to walk away from them. The former means progress, the latter stagnation or going backwards.


Within your practice, the PMS system (Optomate/SUNIX) has a tremendous amount of data but not always in a usable form, and often needs reworking to make sense of it - a bit like Scrabble. Practice owners are mostly time poor, working in their practices rather than on them, so it takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to translate all the data points into meaningful insight. As a business owner, your time is more productively spent making decisions than collating and manipulating data.


For the shareholders and practices of the IO Group, we have invested significant resources into facilitating the translation of data into insight, as well as systems and process to reduce the administrative burden on staff. These tools and services cover a diverse range of options and are delivered via the cloud allowing for easy access to resources. Among other things these cover: an email group for optometrists to share and resolve problems, and for practice staff too; business intelligence, including performance benchmarking at a national and regional level, daily performance tracking and productivity ratios; training - an ever-growing library of options for staff and owners; salary surveys to assist in understanding wage costs; Xpress - an online contact lens sales platform; an insurance claims platform to reduce quoting, admin and invoicing; and frame stock models and analysis to ensure you have the products to meet your customers’ needs now and in the future.


Whether you use IO Group’s tools and services or employ your own, these are all key areas for practice owners to analyse and understand and are vital for making meaningful business decisions.


To summarise, when you encounter a problem:

  • Confront it, and walk towards it
  • Describe and detail the related components
  • Identify the information you need
  • Contextualise the data into insight
  • Bounce solutions and critically evaluate options
  • Take action


Remember, more is lost by indecision than a wrong decision. But in closing, perhaps these wise words are more important than all:


“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears” - Nelson Mandela.


Neil Human is CEO of the Independent Optometry Group. To find out more about how IO Group can help make your practice thrive, please get in touch:



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