Monday, November 30, 2009

When data is not your friend

A simulation using the navier-stokes different...
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Here's a new question you need to have at the ready: So what? Use it early and often, but use it primarily any time someone throws some stats or analysis at you.

I'm a data junkie. I admit it. I understood just enough in my college statistical mathematics class to prove to me that I may not be as smart as I thought I was, and that numbers can mean a hell of a lot more than they appear at first glance.

But stats are just that -- stats. Without informing any goal or objective, without providing a clear path for tactics and execution, they are simply unactionable stats. Spending too much time -- hell, any time on unactionable stats is an utter waste of your time. And a huge stress-ball you don't need.

What am I supposed to do with this?

Require your reporting team to give you something you can work with. And don't let them shove averages and trends down your throat. I think that the average is one of the worst measurement tools we have and leads to terrible decisions. But it's easy, and so we do it. Trends are just as insidious, as they lead to causefusion.

Demand data you can work with. Data that helps you solve a problem. Data that informs your goals and objectives. Not getting it? Get it. It's there. You just have to dig a bit deeper. Start by throwing out all that worthless stuff on top.


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