Action Produces Information

If you’ve read a lot of articles about decision making, you might think that good decision making is simply a function of applying the right decision-making frameworks to the world, and then reaping the benefits.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Nice article, @cedric. It took me a while in my career before I came to understand the importance of taking action in the face of ambiguity.

We MBA-types are often not very good starting something new. We take pride in our analytical abilities—our capacity to observe and orient. A problem is, of course, there is little valid data available in a truly new domain. So, we get stuck or, worse, make observations based on fantasy rather than reality.

In my experience, effective entrepreneurs have a strong bias toward making decisions and, critically, acting on those decisions. Data, information, and, ultimately, knowledge (potentially) follows.

Create options. They are valuable in the face of uncertainty. Run experiments to create data and resolve uncertainty. Apply decision frameworks when data is richer and the stakes higher.

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Well said!

One of the things I’ve come to believe in the years since I wrote this piece is that ‘action generates information’ is what explains many of the differences between business operators and investors.

Investors tend to have a preference for mental models and decision frameworks like the one described in Superforecasting — which, when you think about it, is well suited to an environment where they can’t directly act to influence company outcomes (unless they’re an activist investor, that is!). Whereas operators tend to make decisions more fluidly, since they can always take action to generate more useful information before (or while) they act!