How important is your DATA?

An entrepreneur should be comfortable with and knowledgeable about the data that leads their organization. It is always important to know if the data that you work with, governs you or do you govern it!

We all have a notion that numbers (DATA) speak for themselves, but are we actually sure about the facts we are looking at?

The data litmus test – Answer “yes” or “no” to the following statements:

– When I receive a report, the first thing I do is scan through all the data to see what the report is telling me.

– I make sure my presentations and papers are full of charts, graphs, and tables.

– I diligently read all the reports that I receive, in order to figure out the answers.

– I use standard, corporate reports to make decisions and take actions.

If you answered “yes” to more than three of these statements, you would be surprised that you might not be as effective as you think, and therefore your DATA is governing you.

A good business owner would thoroughly understand their businesses and the story that is unfolding within it. They combine their understanding and intuition with data to create a complete overall objective. Well, good entrepreneurs would always know that DATA is just one of the many inputs used to make effective decisions and take action.

Here are a few tips to govern your data:

1. Never look at your data blindly: Always use a question or hypothesis to guide your search.

2. Try to build your own reports: Most corporate reports are created by someone whose job is to make reports, not run your business. Those reports are often generic and not geared toward the decisions and actions you must take.

3. Ask the right questions: There is no such thing as an absolute, “right,” or “complete” set of data. Ensure that you’ve asked the right questions and that your data leads to a logical solution.

4. Deduce and recommend. Figure out what the data means and share that. The sooner you can get to passing along a recommendation or interpretation, the faster you will move to decisions and actions.

5. Never forget the big picture. Any data you look at is just a piece of the full story. Instead of looking at the data in isolation, figure out how it ties to the bigger picture of your business.

Last but not the least, never be bias with your DATA and try to keep it in check. Use your bias to generate questions rather than determine answers. At the end of the day it is all about leading your data correctly, rather than letting your data lead and make decisions for you.

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