The fictional LA detective, Joe Friday, was famous for saying “Just the facts, Ma’am.”
Similarly, in the tech and business worlds, “Show me the data” has become a common refrain.
As in, nothing really matters if there isn’t data to support it.
Well, that’s great if you’re a middle manager with a lot of boxes to tick.
But think back to the last time you saw a line go around the block, and ask yourself what the folks were waiting in line for.
Chances are, they weren’t in line to download a bunch of facts. They were in line to experience a story. Or a song. Or a preacher. Or a chef. Or a painter. They were in line to experience something unique and wonderful.
Data likely had Sweet-Fanny-Adams to do with any of it.
Russ Roberts talked about this on the Tim Ferris podcast back in August.
Yes, most of us are in business because we want to be successful. And yes, data in business is terribly important. But success requires more than just data. Success requires humanity as well. “Man does not live by bread alone” and all that.
When confronted by a data-obsessed Microsoft (of course) executive who was missing the forest (of a complex problem) for the trees (of “data”), I responded “Business is not a coin-operated spreadsheet” (ie. just put investment in the top and out pops nicely predetermined profit/outcome). He just didn’t seem to grasp the complexities of risk especially when human beings are introduced to the equation.