Too many leaders are adrift in an ocean of information, argue Christopher Frank and Paul Magnone. To avoid getting swamped by statistics, it's essential to have a clear idea of what questions you're trying to answer and to use those questions to guide smart, data-driven decision-making. "Questions are arguably the most powerful tool to shape decisions," Frank and Magnone write.
The 9/11 attacks were horrific, but they spurred a wave of technological and business innovation, writes Eric Markowitz. Creativity inspired by 9/11 led to such innovations as intelligent search-and-rescue robots and websites such as Meetup, experts say. "When events like 9/11 occur they accelerate and intensify that ongoing innovation. I think that context needs to be appreciated," says Garth Rockcastle, a professor of architecture at the University of Maryland.
Bosses are only as good as their last decisions, so it pays to take time to ponder major decisions before taking the plunge, writes Mike Myatt. Start with situation analysis, then subject your plan to public scrutiny, weigh risks and rewards, and check for conscience pangs. Only then take action. "Don't fall prey to analysis paralysis, but rather make the best decision possible with the information at hand," Myatt advises.
The Chipotle restaurant chain is growing explosively and raking in huge returns -- and founder Steve Ells says he wants to repeat the trick with an Asian-themed chain. The plan is to reproduce the "slow food, fast" system under which Chipotle uses locally sourced, fresh ingredients. "Chipotle succeeds not because of the burritos," Ells says. "It works because of our system."
High-tech data analytics are changing how many institutions -- including law enforcement agencies and clothing retailers -- do business. Vastly increased computing power makes it possible for managers to parse sales data and spot trends. "These insights don't come super easily, but the information is there," says James Markarian, chief technology officer at data specialist Informatica.