Data and Facts Are Not the Same
Last week Steve Martin had a great post about data and going to see what is actually happening over at theThinkShack blog. It struck a nerve with me because it reflects something I seen happening on a regular basis. I am tired of people trying to solve problems while sitting in a conference room.
Don’t misunderstand me. Ten years ago you would have heard me say some of the same things. So, I do have patience with teaching people to go and see. Once I learned to go and see it became very freeing because I didn’t stress about what the data said. I spoke to facts.
Data is a good thing. I am not saying we should ignore data, but we need to know its place. Data can help point us in the direction of problems. It can tell us where we should go and look for facts.
Facts to me are what you actually see happen. What you have observed. It isn’t the hearsay you get in a conference room. Facts explain what is actually happening and add deeper meaning to the data.
I lived a great example recently. In a conference room, managers looked at the data and saw a problem that was happening. They started talking about what was happening and why. They asked if I would look into fixing it. I said I would look at what is actually going on. I spent 2 hours directly observing the work and realized the one problem they were talking about was actually several different problems out on the floor. I asked the person actually doing the work to take a couple weeks worth of data based on what was actually happening. The data showed they actually had 2 big problems that made up 80% of the total errors the original data showed. I then did another hour of direct observation between an area that had the problem and an area that did not. I was able to explain the problem with facts that I observed and data to support those facts to add concrete to what I observed. At that point, there was some obvious ways to correct the situation.
Data and facts are different. They are not substitutes for each other. Data and facts can be a very strong combination when used together to understand a problem.
facts truths – use eyes – go and see
Link to Steve Martin’s Blog Post: http://thinkshack.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/garbage-in-wheat-and-soybeans-out/
Posted on March 14, 2011, in Learning, Metrics, Problem Solving and tagged Data, Direct Observation, Facts, Learning, Metrics, Problem Solving, Steve Martin, theThinkShack. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.