What are you doing about the insight-to-data ratio long-tail?

Below are three tips, but first…

Know the problem

By untold orders of magnitude we’ve got ready access to more data than ever. That data seems to be growing exponentially. And yet, at the same time, the world is ever more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA). The problem now is less about access to data than interrogating data to provide insight.

1 Learn by doing

In a VUCA world insights are emergent (learn about VUCA here). Consequently you need to give up trying to plan based on creating accurate models of what will happen. Probe the world and observe what happens…then go again. Like Agile software developers and Design-led thinkers, learn by doing.

‘Doing’ for our purposes is dialogue. Don’t try and analyse the data to divine ‘the truth’, probe it. Talk with people about what it means to them: their truths.

“There are no facts but only interpretations.” – Nietzsche

We’ve got to talk about data more and more intelligently. Playing with ideas, exploring meanings, examining interpretations. Learn by doing. Get some people together to talk about the data.

2. Double down on diversity

In the natural world the most robust ecosystems are the ones that have most diversity. How’s your ecosystem? Are you going to have robust dialogue? When you’re doing this dialoguing about data look at the room. Is everyone from the same department? Are you all on the same pay-grade? Does everyone look the same? Did everyone know each other already? If the answer is “Yes” that might feel comfortable – but you know where the good stuff happens.

3. Focus attention

Once you have your diverse group all you have to do is give them a common purpose. Be careful here. We’re trained to think of purpose in terms of objectives and goals. Intentions. That intention can be yours, but you don’t necessarily need to set it as a ‘goal’ for dialogue about data – that’s likely to narrow thinking and introduce bias.

All you need to do is think about what you want the group to pay close attention to. Ask them some simple, open questions. As simple as:

What is this?

What is this like?

How do you experience this?

…and let them explore their responses together in whatever way they see fit.

Listen and learn.