Nikki Blacksmith & Dr. Maureen E. McCusker — Data-Driven Decision-Making

Colin Jordan
3 min readMay 29, 2024

Dr. Nikki Blacksmith and Dr. Maureen E. McCusker’s new compilation is entitled Data-Driven Decision-Making in the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem. The contributors include organizational consultant Nilima Ajaikumar, organizational psychologist, data scientist, and entrepreneur Dr. Reece Akhtar, industrial and organizational psychologist Kelsie Colley, Blackhawke Behavioral Science research analyst Kelly Diouf, Dr. Samantha Dubrow — human-centered engineering researcher at MITRE, entrepreneurship expert and entrepreneur Dr. Jerome Katz, and Dr. Victoria Mattingly of Mattingly Solutions, a woman-owned, DEI consulting firm aimed at improving workplace experience.

Needless to say, varied and exceptionally bonafide company. What particularly intrigued me about the nature of Dr. Blacksmith and Dr. McCusker’s new book is the anthropological-like approach to explaining the issues. There’s no hand-holding or high-handed tonalities here. Just straight truths, aimed for the initiated, yet handled with bell-clear, concise, and straightforward presentational style. By incorporating so many varied and unique voices in the room, Dr. Blacksmith and Dr. McCusker are able to offer something of a smorgasbord of interlinked methodologies, approaches, and mindsets critical to establishing a healthy, Lean-inspired, titular ‘ecosystem’ at work that will keep the wheel of productivity turning without fail.

“Interdisciplinary inquiry incites innovation and ingenuity. History has shown us this phenomenon countless times, well before the Nobel Prize-winning Physicist quoted above called out scientists’ resistance and fear in doing so,” the beginning of the book reads. “Today, we have countless scientific fields (i.e., neurology, clinical psychology, family and marriage psychology, social psychology, organizational psychology, sports psychology, management, and entrepreneurialism) all working within our respective disciplines, yet all with similar aims to better understand and predict human behavior.

Scientists and practitioners consistently make incredible advancements within their fields that can be directly or indirectly translated or applied in a separate discipline, but they are instead retained in their own disciplines’ territory.

The purpose of this book is thus to inspire rather than resist the integration of the organizational sciences, especially industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology, and entrepreneurship research.”

While getting into specifics, the book is able to modulate itself in such a way that after the stats it always can summarize the core points and concepts in a minute or two. “…We argue that human capital should be a primary, rather than secondary or tertiary, focus for startups,” it states in this vein. “Without the right people all the other components are moot because it is the people who generate ideas, make decisions, and execute all of the business functions. People power all startup activities from generating the vision to closing sales to building products. People, therefore, are a startup’s greatest asset.

BUY THE BOOK: https://www.amazon.com/Data-Driven-Decision-Making-Entrepreneurship-Maximizing/dp/1032052783

However, when not managed well, people become a startup’s biggest liability…Ramifications of sidelining human capital management affect more than just the founders, employees, and investors. The entrepreneurial ecosystem is anything but diverse…The lack of diversity — at the macro-economic level — is a social justice issue. For startups, it leads to performance misses. Research has demonstrated that diversity can affect innovation, discrimination, communication, performance, and team success. Yet, 72% of startups are founded by an all-male team. Only 28% have at least one woman co-founder.”

Colin Jordan

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Colin Jordan

Graduate: McNeese State University, Avid Beekeeper, Deep Sea Diver & Fisherman, Horrible Golfer