Information by itself is meaningless. Data for data’s sake will get you exactly nowhere. Our current obsession with information we have no intention of using is not only pointless, but it’s also a threat to progress, impact, and optimization.
Don’t get me wrong. Love and Science was created, in part, to balance the exciting and creative with the measurable and scientific. But we believe the really important thing about data is how you’re going to use it. When left to its own devices, it’s a total deadbeat.
We don’t like data. We like what data can tell us. To optimize, you have to have something to analyze. And analyzing information can be a lot of fun – especially if it’s punctuated by action. If you really want to blow the lid off, measure the impact and iterate based on results to try and achieve greater and greater results. Take it to the absolute edge of madness and look for opportunities that lie outside of your current questions.
People tend to have very strained and strange relationships with data. It’s held up as an oracle. It’s conflicting. It’s to be feared. It’s a weapon. It’s reviled and discarded. It’s mystical. It’s all powerful. It’s a career maker. It’s a buzzword. It’s a burden.
But it’s none of those things by itself. You, the thinking human, give it its power. And it, in turn, can provide power to you.
Even the definition of data includes the action required to make data useful. Depending on the dictionary, you find myriad latent verbs like:
If data is important enough to you to make it into your conversation at the office, try engaging with it in its natural habitat – your brain. And don’t go limiting it to your left brain1 either. Bring creativity to the party. Think outside the box. What might it be telling you? What’s worth testing? What’s outside of your current thinking and vision? Does it give you ideas? Can you test your hypothesis?
Data’s a storyteller waiting to happen, but the poor little guy (big or not) needs your help.