We live in an age that inundates us with more data than we have ever had before. And more data means better decisions, right?
Sadly, that's not necessarily the case.
Back in 2012, management consultancy CEB, now a subsidiary of Gartner, studied how more than 5,000 employees in 22 global companies used data in their decision-making.
The researchers concluded that there were three categories of workers:
- The visceral decision-makers, who followed their instincts rather than the numbers
- The unquestioning empiricists, who followed the data slavishly
- The informed skeptics, who considered the data but used it with caution
That third category—those who used data with a measure of skepticism, balancing the figures with their own judgement—ultimately made the best decisions.
How can we take advantage of the blessings of evidence without being led astray by numerical mirages?
The best place to start is with a good sense of how stats can let us down.
1. Things Change