Be Skeptical of Your Data



Here is another valuable Management Tip of the Day from Harvard Business Review. To sign up for a free subscription to any/all HBR newsletters, please click here.

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Managers shouldn’t take important analyses at face value, even if it is easy to be seduced by good news. In fact, when it comes to data, err on the side of skepticism.

For example, if a company sees that its website traffic is up, it might be tempted to celebrate and continue doing what it’s doing. But if something looks too good to be true, it probably is. A deeper dive might reveal that mobile traffic is actually flat, and if that company is interested in mobile platforms, it should look closely at its strategy.

1. Always dig as deeply into the data as you can, make sure it is accurate, and make sure you understand the real-life processes that produced it.

2. Seek confirmatory data sources and develop new ways to explore the conventional wisdom. When the time comes to make a decision, do so.

3. Then see what happens and reevaluate.

Adapted from “When It Comes to Data, Skepticism Matters” by Thomas C. Redman.

To check out that resource and join the discussion, please click here.

Also, you may wish to check out an anthology, Management Tips from Harvard Business Review, by clicking here.

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