ARE BAD DECISIONS BACKED BY GOOD WORKSHEETS? 

August 05 2015

“Why the *beep* none told me that this product was not viable to be launched three months back” shouted the potbellied red faced boss.

“Sir, it was viable, when we started, only the point no 6 in other assumptions did not come true. Also you know Mr Raghu who was working on this sheet left two months back so the new guy was not aware of the linking and we got wrong results” quick was reply from battery of analysts.


How often have you heard or experienced this situation? This sheet is linked to that which is to that and then there is master sheet and what master sheet does no master can tell! Linking’s of sheets, v look up, macros, pulling data from that folder and you have a gigantic unmanageable maze of linkings should I call them websheets!! Like when you are browsing and don’t know how you landed at current screen.

Decision making is dynamic and the way our analysts create sheets to support them is so static and complex as if once created it will be canned for Oscars. Ask the creator of worksheet after ten days to explain and he will take one day to brush his memory. How will you support your decisions on such sheets? Management needs numbers only directionally and not absolute numbers unless it’s a statutory filing, however the accounting minded analysts continue striving for accuracy even if it means data becomes redundant by the time it is presented.  

The other side of the coin is management which has misplaced expectations from the numbers. They want numbers to say what they want to hear. Numbers they say if tortured sufficiently will confess what you want them to say. Analysts are not scientists who can create magic in their labs. They will try to hide anything you don’t want to hear in that remote sheet AZ10 cell and give you the answer which makes you happy. If you have already made up your mind to proceed with a decision why want complex sheets to make you happy? Why make analysts a scapegoat.

Somewhere a harmony has to be struck so that management and analysts compliment the decision making process. If management has an intuition let it not burden the analysts with that intuition and let it be independent. Then once the numbers arrive evaluate in light of the intuition. That will provide greater insights into the decision making.  Analysts are not scientists who can shoulder the burden of misplaced management expectations. Numbers should be used to express not impress. An analyst role is to support decision making and management role is to take informed decisions based on that data. Analyst can be used to their maximum if management knows what they want and what for they want analysts.Type your paragraph here.