Judgement Driven

Someone recently asked me if I was data driven. I asked them “what counts as data?” Does my experience count as data? This led me to think about what drives my decisions. My conclusion was that I was judgement driven and that I generally like to hire people with good judgement.

Here is the basic architecture of my decision making.


At the center of the of the circle is what actually makes the decision. It is human judgement. This is how I decide about product design and about the people I hire. Good judgement is the ability to bring wisdom to the data you have gathered.


I have collected many principles over the years. These principles can be contradictory and vague. They are not meant to be laws or rules. The book, Practical Wisdom, does an excellent job of explaining why principles are better than rules. It is human wisdom or judgement that helps define whether one principle or another is useful for the decision at hand.


Data is everything in the universe that can be known or understood.

– Glen Lipka, 2023

Data is everything that ever was, is, and ever will be. It includes everyone’s experiences, opinions, anecdotes, hard core experiments, explorations, ideas, videos, competitive designs, other products, and literally anything than can help inform your decision. Information doesn’t drive your decision, it informs it.


Finally, is the mission. This is fundamentally the thing you are trying to achieve. All your decisions come in service of the mission. However, the architecture here serves to show how individual decisions are made. In my opinion, they should not be decided with data alone. The decision is made by judgement, which is shaped by principles, informed by information you collected, and the mission you are serving.


What does it mean to be driven by something? In my opinion, it means that you are picking one factor that has the final say. If I am data driven, it means that the data is making the decision for me. When we are judgement driven, it means we need to make the decision with all of the information available using our minds, balancing all of the pros and cons of each option.

There are many flavors of this including how people make decisions together, how they compromise, and how they persuade others. Decisions are design. This is the hardest part of a product. If you are a designer and feel that your judgement is not respected and trusted, I would say there is a serious problem. Why is that the case? What can you do to improve it?



One response to “Judgement Driven”

  1. Great post! Being “data-driven” has become such a buzzword. It’s insightful to see how you break down this Silicon Valley truism and build up to a thoughtfully-crafted framework that’s much more meaningful.

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