Stop saying “I think…”
There is one sentence I’ve heard way too often lately while working with all of the projects I’m involved in: “I think it is because this…” or “so you believe it is because of…” Basically relying on, in the best case, guesses but more often on feelings. We need less guessing and feeling and more data to drive our decision-making.
Data-driven decision-making isn’t anything new. Equally, data cannot stand on its own. There’s certainly a space for intuition too. My argument, however, is that we need to become better at finding and extracting data that is available to us.
Get data, any data. In one of the projects, the scout camp Lägr1, we’re using easy, quantitative, metrics such as the number of participants who have registered, how many Facebook likes we have, how each of those numbers develop over time, from where the participants are, age groups, demographics from census data, number of emails received and sent to our info-mail, number of opens of mass mails, downloads of our posters, and more. Each of these metrics enables us to attain an objective view on our marketing efforts. It also hints at where we need to improve.
However, quantitative data says little about how we can improve. Qualitative data may provide more insight in those cases. We have, for example, talked to professionals in Scouting, asked for opinions from participants on specific activities, and talked ambassadors within the right age group. These people provide insight from an external perspective that, although it may be “guessable”, is invaluable data to help drive our decisions and future efforts.
So far there’s nothing new here. Right and wrong. Right because there is data all around all the time. Wrong because to think that people are doing this is not true (according to my own data collection during the past few weeks). We’re simply either too ignorant or too lazy to go looking for data to support our decision-making. Guessing and feeling is the cheap way out.
Thus, I’m trying to synthesise a three-step process which I run through my own head when subjectivity goes through the roof. At the moment it looks like this:
- What am I trying to answer?
- Who or what knows more than me about this?
- Is there a correlation between the data and what I’m trying to answer?
Figure out where to get the data. Start by what you have already, if you don’t have any, postpone or do some simple tests. For example you can set up tracking of the number of incoming e-mails (this was essentially Lägr1’s first metric). And remember that it doesn’t have so darn complicated. Data rules best-effort guessing any day!
"I think this blog post will spread through the Internetz like wildfire…"