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Home » The Analyst’s Dilemma: To Analyze or Not To Analyze, That is The Question

The Analyst’s Dilemma: To Analyze or Not To Analyze, That is The Question

I was recently in a conversation with someone looking to build a data team for their company. While I was pleased to hear them describe the ability to use data as a critical asset for their growth, having spent only a few days with their team, I don’t think they were especially happy to hear me list out all red-flags I thought made it impossible for them to do so.

This left me wondering whether what happened was something like this…

Or whether, because 93% of Analysts say they listen to their heads rather than their hearts when making important decisions, it was a case of me (incorrectly) over-analysing the situation.

The Analyst’s Dilemma

On the one hand, our brains are wired to rationalise the reasons for the current state of affairs all the time. We think “You can’t manage what you can’t measure” is a not a quote by a fellow analyst but rather gospel. On the other, 43% of Analysts [in the workforce] say they would be better than their boss at their boss’s job, which is classic Dunning–Kruger Effect at play. The boss is the boss, and we’re not them, for a reason, right?

This begs the question, to be or not to be (I had to, sorry!), what we are meant to be?

When Not To Be

The Analyst in us is especially good at looking at similar situations in the past and figuring out what worked and what did not, so before we decide to switch on the Analyst mind, it might be a good idea to take a step back and think whether the situation at hand is within our circle of competence. Some questions to ask ourselves might be: Have we (or does our research show) encountered this in the past? What worked and what did not? If not, can we find data on similar situations and use that to inform our decisions?

If we determine, with intellectual honesty, that the situation is not within our circle of competence, the best thing we can do is to not have an opinion on the matter.

When To Be

Now if you’re a fellow analyst, you’re probably already thinking that the idea of knowing when to switch the Analyst off is also the result of being a good analyst, right? The answer for when to be one then seems to be: always!?

Except this time you’re not analysing the situation, you’re analysing your own ability to analyse the situation. Talk about a dilemma.

Keep Data. Decisions. Repeat-ing,