On one hand you never want to make a decision without good information. On the other hand there is value in the timeliness of a decision and many times there will be imperfect information regardless of how much time you wait.
The best leaders have a complex 5D Model in their heads at all times. They have mental models of the market with the competition, their projects and their business as a whole. This “Situational Awareness” along with the ability to act decisively is crucial.
Many times we are looking for perfectly formatted data in some sort of a report but there are indicators all over the place. Consider two restaurants; Saturday evening; similar locations; similar food. One is packed consistently with a wait and the other is nearly empty serving a couple tables at a time.
You don’t need detailed financial information to know there are problems and begin the troubleshooting process. There are many similar indicators on projects and within contracting businesses. The more you train yourself and your team to “see” these then act upon them the better your team will operate.
Part of the learning process is to see the indicators then to dig rapidly for supporting data to better evaluate.
What are your main proxy indicators for productivity, safety, quality, morale, etc.?