Connect more, collect less

I read this on Seth Godin’s blog a couple years ago and I think it fits nicely with last month’s post on the What, How, Why approach to analytics:

Without a doubt, the ability to connect the dots is rare, prized and valuable. Connecting dots, solving the problem that hasn’t been solved before, seeing the pattern before it is made obvious, is more essential than ever before.

Why then, do we spend so much time collecting dots instead? More facts, more tests, more need for data, even when we have no clue (and no practice) in doing anything with it.

Their big bag of dots isn’t worth nearly as much as your handful of insight, is it?

Data forms many dots. Dots are agnostic. They exist, they’re phenomena, but they don’t really have meaning. Only when subjectively interpreted by a human, do they acquire meaning.

If you’re not connecting them in a meaningful way, a way that’s meaningful for your business or your client or your boss or your health, or whatever you’re trying to understand and improve, then you’re not really doing anything.

There’s a kind of resistance in analytics that comes in the form of the voice in your head that says “we just need to get all our tracking set up perfectly, and THEN we can start doing something with the data.” Yeah, I know from experience. It’s something I have to fight in myself too.

But what if you were only allowed to use one tool or even one metric? If I gave you $10,000, do you think you could find some meaning, some improvement, some insight with that one tool or metric? Probably. And you probably have more than one tool working already, so really it’s just resistance that’s keeping you from doing something important with them.




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