Mad Men and Business Judgement

Harvard Business Review recently published a great article about the use of computers in the HBO series – Mad Men.  You can read the article here: That Mad Men Computer, Explained by HBR in 1969

The most interesting part of the article is around the use of data for decision making:

“The point of the equations is only to “anticipate and verify intuitive guesses which are expected to be forthcoming from the businessman” [italics original]. In other words, the mathematics are essentially meant to serve as an amplification of the executive’s judgment, not as a substitute.  Intuition-support is, in fact, the point for Miller. For him, the real benefit of the new technology isn’t just the ability to perform what-if analyses on current data, as powerful as that is, but that executives could do it in the privacy of their own offices, which would afford them the time for the private reflection from which intuition springs”

Project Online provides great capabilities for what-if scenario planning, but the term “garbage in; garbage out” (coined in 1963) is as relevant as ever, while the need for time to analyse the results is just as important.