MAR 22, 2011 8:58am ET

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Stories vs. Statistics for BI


I just spent a few hours over a recent spring break trip rereading Phil Rosenzweig's wonderful book: “The Halo Effect – and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers.” Halo is definitely the best business book I've read in the past five years. It should be required reading for anyone involved in evaluating business performance, looking for the proverbial “keys to success.”

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Comments (2)
Steve, this is an excellent blog that points to two of the most significant challenges in BI: 1) the fact that a most of what gets done to get to a good answer is not appreciated or interesting to anybody outside of the discipline. Commercial departments, by virtue of their "creative flair" are much better at telling stories, and hence more likely to get support for their "gut" feel, than the BI manager with their hard facts. Show me a CCO or a CEO that asks about your control group and I will show you somebody with a hard science degree. 2) too much focus on just the numbers often make for very boring findings. It is unfortunate that most data miners are so obsessed with technique that they are seldom able to think conceptually about what they are doing. Often to the extent that they will mine the same data again and again without ever thinking about how to enrich it or how to look at it from a different angle
Posted by Ilze v | Wednesday, March 23 2011 at 11:50AM ET
Steve, I agree with your approach to using stories on the front end and the back end with research and statistics in the middle. I used to lean much more to the "numbers" side and became frustrated by how difficult it was to communicate "why we should do x instead of y" using just the numbers. I learned about the importance of stories as a communication and persuasion tool from "Made to Stick" by Dan and Chip Heath. It was a real eye-opener for me. I think anyone interested in building a data-driven organization needs to place stories between the "facts and figures" and their audience.
Posted by Julius C | Wednesday, March 23 2011 at 1:12PM ET
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