Mind+Machine: A book review by Bob Morris

Mind+Machine: A Decision Model for Optimizing and Implementing Analytics
Marc Vollenweider
John Wiley & Sons (November 2016)

How the mind can collaborate with machines to achieve high-impact results, and, thereby create new capabilities that did not exist before.

One of the biggest challenges that business leaders face is to cut through information overload to make better decisions faster. One key decision is whether or not an individual or a machine or an individual working with a machine should complete the given work.

As Marc Vollenweider explains in the Preface, while providing 39 detailed case studies, “Mind+Machine addresses end-to-end, information-heavy processes that support decision making or produce information-based output, such as sales pitches or research and data products, either for internal recipients or for external clients or customers. This includes all types of data and information: qualitative and quantitative; financial, business, and operational; static and dynamic; big and small; structured and unstructured.”

During the course of his narrative, he focuses on subjects such as these:

o The Top 12 Fallacies about Mind+Machine
o 13 Trends creating Massive Opportunities for Mind+Machine
o How to Implement the Mind+Machine Approach: 15 Perspectives

It is important to keep in mind that Vollenweider defines successful analytics as the delivery of the right insight to the right decision makers at the right time and in the right format.

With regard to an analytics use case, it is the end-to-end analytics support solution applied once or repeatedly to single business issues faced by an end user or homogenous group of end users who need to make decisions, take actions, or deliver a product or service on time based on the insights delivered.”

Here are three of the several dozen passages that caught my eye:

“There are one billion analytics use cases out there in the world. The mind+machine approach is the answer to garner their ROI. You are not alone in the quest to achieve this ROI, and you don’t have to be a specialist in data science to navigate this maze. Understanding the top 12w fallacies should already equip you with a first set of intelligent questions allowing you to challenge some of the conventional wisdom use by vendors and internal functions.” (Page 82)

“As with every new development, there are big opportunities, but also significant potential risks to be avoided or at least managed. Overall, I believe that the [13] trends are very much good news for you, the business owners and end users. The balance of power has very much shifted in your favor.” (196)

“Werner von Braun, the creator of the Saturn V rocket and significant contributor to the Apollo program, once said, ‘I have learned to use the word impossible with the greatest caution.’ I hope you find inspiration in this quote for the work of mind+machine…Think of this book as the equivalent of Ariadne’s ball of thread, given to Theseus to ensure that after completing his mission [i.e. to slay the Minotaur], he could come safely back home.” (281)

Almost all of the information, insights, and counsel that Marc Vollenweider provides will be of substantial value to leaders in almost any organization, whatever its size and nature may be. Bravo!

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