Why Data can Often be Answering the Wrong Questions

 

Data is always historical.  However our goals are always future focused.

There is a science and art to data and strategy.   One part is very rational, and another is emotional.  Knowing how to merge the two, and depart from the obvious is where true innovation starts to occur.  

People turn to analytics to measure performance, determine data driven insights, and establish strategy based off the summation of all of this.  This type of thinking is great for identifying outliers, becoming aware of existing behavior, and a several other types of insights.  For the most part I personally think this can be incremental.  This has a place. I am not saying its good or bad. It just shows you exactly what you went looking for. 

Now lets consider another part of this equation.  Where do you want to be in x months? Could it be that we need to incorporate an entirely new way of thinking that is not currently being measured. Something that no one is looking for.  If we need to make leaps, instead of incremental milestones in progress, sometimes we need to step aside from the data and set our own goals using new tools and create new data sets.

The issue with ONLY relying on historical data is that innovation does not always show up in a data set.  Even if you crowdsource popular opinions of what people want, they can only think so far ahead.  And sometimes the true disruptions and innovative outliers are overlooked to make a prettier graph.  This is an common issue in social media.

These outliers could be the next ipad, tesla, or facebook.  Reference here to the famous Henry Ford quote ” If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”  Sometimes the data was right, but to grow and move ahead, one needs to assume the data could be wrong if you could see what the future data would look like.  Things change.

There is a science and art to data and strategy.   One part is very rational, and another is emotional. Knowing how to merge the two, and depart from the obvious is where true innovation starts to occur.  

Data can always show you where you have been. But it cannot always show you the best path forward.

pd –   18 minutes.

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