For years I have worked with a wonderful assemblage of talent from a wide variety of fields, both inside and outside government. This includes venture capitalists, intelligence analysts, business analysts, and senior executives. The really good ones are able to ingest a lot of information quickly and iterate through it quickly to make decisions, more often than not quite accurately. Those who do this well are recognized and advance – those that cannot, stall or move on. Have you ever wondered, “how do they do that?”
My conclusion is that they are very good at observing what works, creating a mental model with appropriate attributes, and then do pattern matching. When they find something that closely resembles their model, they quickly zero in on it and move forward. Additional facts and data may be gathered to support or refute the pattern before decisions are taken, but nothing goes forward without a match.
Why does one highly respected venture firm choose to pass on an investment, and an equally regarded firm make an investment after listening to the same pitch? The opportunity fits the pattern of success for one, but not the other – both can be right, but for different, valid reasons. Pattern matching.
The intelligence community is sometimes described as looking for a “needle in a stack of needles.” A very tough job, when lives ride on success or failure. Certain patterns of behavior and relationships are usually the things that lead to ferreting out people with bad intentions. Pattern matching.
A friend of mine once brought a possible acquisition to the CEO of his company. He thought it was particularly suitable since it was not very large and would not distract the company. The CEO turned thumbs down after a one-minute introduction to the opportunity. The CEO stated, “This deal is not big enough to make an impact on our business. It will be more difficult for us to make a small deal successful than a bigger one.” Pattern matching.
A thought – take some time to think about what has worked in your personal or professional life, and create a pattern for what has worked. Then use this pattern the next time an opportunity comes around, and see if it contributes to better and quicker decision-making. Let me know how it works out.