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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

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These are supposed to be a secret? From whom?
(Nice job!)
Ed,

I enjoyed your secret laws and here's one for a Good Analysis Law:

A good analysis passes through three periods:
• It can’t be done.
• It probably can be done, but it’s not worth doing.
• I knew it was a good idea all along.
It's reaffirming to hear that the First Certainty Principle is sound with people who understand the data, however often a nuisance for higher management to contemplate the reasoning behind the footnoting.
I loved #1 & #2. However, the "certain types" are also required in most situations to keep driving things forward.
fantastic, very useful
Thank you for sharing. Very cathartic!

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