Data + Intuition = Success


Ok, I’ll admit there’s a lot more that goes into that equation for it to work in real life. But it’s a start.

Here’s what Jason Kottke says at the end of a post about expensive products that lose money but show the company cares about excellence (think the Corvette and Mac Pro):

Normally I’m not a big fan of advice like “do what big car companies do”, but what Siracusa’s piece demontrates is one of the things that’s problematic about data: there are important things about business and success that you can’t measure. And I would go so far as to say that these unmeasurables are the most important things, the stuff that makes or breaks a business or product or, hell, even a relationship, stuff that you just can’t measure quantitatively, no matter how Big your Data is.

There are two sides to this. 

1. Most companies, non-profits, and universities don’t measure enough. They make decisions based on assumptions. It’s important to ask questions, gather data, and see what is really happening out there.

2. Data alone won’t do it. Some things can’t be measured (or, we don’t know how to measure them well).

So ask good questions. But don’t let the data distract from the bigger goal. Don’t miss potential big-picture wins by getting bogged down in numbers, satisfaction scores, and focus groups. Every once in a while, take a risk on that thing that doesn’t make sense.

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