Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Using Data to Refine Perception

If you find yourself saying the following:

I don’t need to spend time putting a measurement system in place to tell me what I already know. I’m living the issues every day. I know where the problems are and what to do to fix them.

Shark photo credit to Stock Exchange user: lumix2004You might be in a situation where perhaps you should reconsider your position. Sometimes it is necessary to collect data for other reasons - like convincing others.

Three indicators that investing time collecting data might be worth the investment:

  1. People say they agree with you about what the problems are and what needs to be done to fix them, but their actions are to the contrary. [persuasion via demonstration]
  2. When the same problems keep recurring despite having a process or countermeasures in place to prevent them. [verification]
  3. Other problems keep getting all the attention and resources from the leaders and your peers, despite your recommendations or insistence otherwise. [proportional prioritization – magnitude/scale]

Perception is reality. Data is an effective tool to influence perception in order to provide an opportunity to improve the reality.

* Note: Statistics can be [mis]used or misunderstood to support almost any theory like the relationship between shark bites and ice cream sales. I don’t mean for you to use data in a deceptive way just to influence others to support your position. Make sure the data and your understanding of the situation match - checks and balances.

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