For April Fool's Day, I present the Secret Laws of Analytic Projects:
The First Certainty Principle: C~ 1/K
; Certainty is inversely proportional to knowledge.
A person who really understands data and analysis will understand all the pitfalls and limitations, and hence be constantly caveating what they say. Somebody who is simple, straightforward, and 100% certain usually has no idea what they are talking about.
The Second Certainty Principle: A ~ C
; The attractiveness of results is directly proportional to the certainty of the presenters.
Decision-makers are attracted to certainty. Decision-makers usually have no understanding of the intricacies of data mining. What they often need is simply someone to tell them what they should do.
Note that #1 and #2 together cause a lot of problems.
The Time-Value Law: V ~ 1/P
; The value of analysis is inversely proportional to the time-pressure to produce it.
If somebody want something right away, that means they want it on a whim not real need. The request that comes in at 4:00 for a meeting at 5:00 will be forgotten by 6:00. The analysis that can really effect a business has been identified through careful thought, and people are willing to wait for it. (A cheery thought for those late-night fire drills.)
The First Bad Analysis Law: Bad analysis drives out good analysis
Bad analysis invariably conforms to people's pre-conceived notions, so they like hearing it. It's also 100% certain in it's results, no caveats, nothing hard to understand, and usually gets produced first. This means that good analysis always has an uphill fight.
The Second Bad Analysis Law: Bad Analysis is worse than no analysis.
If there is no analysis, people muddle along by common sense which usually works out OK. To really mess things up requires a common direction which requires persuasive analysis pointing in that direction. If that direction happens to be into a swamp, it doesn't help much.
Tactical Logic Blog