Blog / Data & Reporting

5 min read

Managing Personality-Driven Decision-Making with Data

Josh Rice

July 14, 2023

Managing Personality-Driven Decision-Making with Data-featured-image
In this article

    Many federal agencies struggle with “Loudest voice in the room” syndrome, where individual biases, subjective opinions, and/or political influences become the largest contributing factor to the allocation of resources or the prioritization of projects. These biases and subjective preferences often hinder objective decision-making and impede the achievement of an agency’s stated missions. By recognizing and addressing the impact of personality-driven prioritization, federal agencies can improve transparency, accountability, and the overall effectiveness of their decision-making processes, which ultimately improves stakeholder outcomes.

    Managing personality-driven decision-making often poses unique challenges. With multiple stakeholders, complex prioritization processes and compliance requirements, and competing agendas, it is crucial for government agencies to adopt data-driven approaches to prioritize effectively. In this blog, we will explore how federal government organizations can better manage personality-driven decision-making by leveraging data-driven insights.

    Good Decision-Making Starts with Data 

    A fundamental principle in decision science is that good decision-making starts with good data. Data provides the objective foundation needed to overcome biases, subjective opinions, and conflicting interests. By relying on robust data-driven insights, federal agencies can enhance the quality of their decision-making processes and achieve better outcomes. The trouble is many government agencies lack both the tools and processes necessary to effectively gather and analyze data.  

    Step 1: Establish Criteria- 

    Data-driven decision-making begins by defining clear and objective criteria for evaluating options or projects. These criteria include factors such as cost-effectiveness, impact on constituents, alignment with strategic goals, risk, and feasibility. Subjective measures can also be used within decision-making frameworks and defining clear standards. By establishing predefined metrics and evaluation frameworks, federal agencies can ensure that decisions are based on consistent and transparent standards.  

    Step 2: Define processes to gather data efficiently-

    Once the evaluation criteria are defined, the next step is to gather relevant data. Federal agencies have access to a wealth of information, including historical data, performance metrics, public sentiment analysis, and expert opinions. Collecting and analyzing this data provides decision-makers with valuable insights that inform their prioritization processes. 

    Many organizations start their data collecting process utilizing basic forms, spreadsheets, and meetings. Though these methods have their place in the data collection process, they have many pitfalls and drawbacks when datasets become larger or more complex.  

    Decision-making platforms like Decision Lens play a pivotal role in harnessing the power of data. These tools offer advanced capabilities to aggregate, visualize, and analyze large volumes of data, enabling decision-makers to understand complex information. Leveraging such technologies enables federal agencies to more effectively manage personality-driven biases and empower decision-makers with accurate and up-to-date data.

    Step 3: Monitoring and Evaluation- 

    Data-driven decision-making is an iterative process that requires continuous monitoring and evaluation.  Federal agencies can refine their decision-making strategies over time by actively tracking the outcomes of decisions and comparing them against initial data-driven projections. This feedback loop enables agencies to learn from past experiences and continuously improve their prioritization processes. 

    Using Visualizations to Prioritize and Compare Alternatives 

    Visualizations and comparison tools that facilitate effective communication and collaboration among stakeholders have become commonplace in the private sector. The public sector, however, is still in the process of adopting these tools. They are essential to guiding meaningful conversations among decision-makers and stakeholders alike and are the single most important asset for minimizing personality-driven decision-making. By presenting data in a clear and accessible manner, these types of tools enable decision-makers to objectively evaluate and compare alternative projects or initiatives. 

    For example, imagine a federal agency responsible for selecting infrastructure projects for funding. Stakeholders within the agency may have varying opinions or interests in different projects. Decision Lens can provide visual representations of the potential impact, cost, feasibility, and public sentiment associated with each project. By evaluating alternatives based on objective data, decision-makers can engage in constructive dialogue, minimizing the influence of personality-driven decision-making and fostering consensus around data-driven decisions. 

    Evaluating Trade-Offs and Developing Alternative Scenarios 

    The most mature organizations go beyond initial prioritization and trade-off analysis within a given portfolio. The most effective decision-making in the federal government requires analyzing trade-offs and considering various scenarios and how they will impact priorities. This level of preparation, as well as having the tools to quickly and efficiently create alternative courses of action, empower decision-makers to be more agile in their planning and enable continuous planning. Decision Lens allows agencies to model different scenarios and assess the potential impact of prioritization decisions under different conditions. This functionality promotes strategic thinking and enhances decision-makers' ability to anticipate outcomes and address potential risks. 

    For instance, a federal agency responsible for resource allocation in disaster response may need to assess various scenarios, such as the effects of reallocating resources from one region to another or the trade-offs associated with different response strategies. Decision Lens enables decision-makers to simulate these scenarios and evaluate their consequences, allowing for more informed decisions that prioritize objectives over personal biases. 

    Driving Towards Accountability and Transparency 

    Accountability and transparency are critical aspects of on-going decision-making success. Decision Lens facilitates these principles by providing an auditable record of the decision-making process, which ensures that decisions are based on data and not solely influenced by personal preferences. 

    For instance, a federal agency involved in grant allocation can use Decision Lens to document the decision-making process, capturing the rationale behind each grant award and the data supporting those decisions. This documentation enhances accountability, facilitates future analysis, and allows agencies to learn from past experiences and improve their decision-making strategies over time. 


    Minimizing bias and subjectivity in decision-making helps minimize the influence of personality-driven biases and subjective opinions. Data-backed insights help decision-makers make more informed choices that are rooted in evidence rather than personal preferences. This approach ensures that decisions are fair, transparent, and aligned with the best interests of the agency and the public it serves. Managing personality-driven decision-making requires federal agencies to have the right tools to navigate the complexities associated with personality-driven biases.  

    Decision Lens empowers federal agencies to make informed decisions that align with strategic goals by enabling them to establish objective criteria, leverage data, visualize alternatives, analyze trade-offs, and promote accountability. With a commitment to data-driven decision-making and the adoption of innovative tools, federal agencies can overcome the challenges of personality-driven decision-making and achieve better outcomes in their decision-making processes. 

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