I’m a numbers junkie. Heck, if I actually liked complex math, I’d probably have wound up as a quant jock for a hedge fund. So when I’m managing a company or project, I like to rely on real numbers — solid facts — to make decisions. I don’t ignore my gut feel, but I’ve learned that numbers lie less often than my gut.
That said, it’s vital to be looking at accurate data and comparing apples to oranges. Working on solving a problem this week, my team and I looked at a flood of data. Stream of numbers were laid out in front of us. We organized them into different formats — tables, line charts, bar charts, and more. We adjusted numbers to control for different factors. One guy was hard at work discarding “outliers” and calculating standard deviations.
At the end of the day, though, I realized that it all comes down to having good data. You have to collect the right data points and then analyze them correctly. The right data will help you make the right decisions. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself making dumb decisions based on dumb data.