My Son is a Data Analyst and Other Stories

While analyzing data has transformed significantly in recent years, assessments and decision-making processes have still not caught up.

So what has an analyst’s work-load looked like in recent years?

First data scatters are obtained from various sources, analyzed, summarized and simplified so that any six year old would be able to understand it, while containing all the crucial data.

Oh and did I mention -in this same document, writing down our forecasts and trying to predict the probability of several possible futures. Crazy, right?

Nowadays analysts from different fields (Academia, Government, BI, data) are equipped with state of the art technological systems and great amounts of data that makes every one of us seem like a “Research Rockstar”. These tools – such as Excel, Tableau, Sisense – are simple, cheap and readily available. This allows every analyst to have the capability to obtain and assemble estimations and predictions that once required an entire room full of researchers.

Being a Lawyer or Doctor is so Passé

There has been an increase in proud moms whispering “my son is a data analyst” to their friends. Being a lawyer or a doctor is an old aspiration, welcome to the era of data!

But as a wise man once said – with great power comes great responsibility, or does it?

Analysts possess the tools to make great predictions, but they still make them on their own (or in some cases as part of a small group of people with the same qualifications, usually discussing raw data and the best way to summarize and predict based on it).

The issue arises when we start using these new research and info gathering methods along with the decision-making methods of the past.

The Wisdom of the Crowd

Francis Galton’s experiment where he asked a county fair audience to guess the weight of an ox showed that the combined average prediction of the entire audience was very close to the actual ox weight and more accurate than every participant’s individual guess. This is a great example of the term “wisdom of the crowd”.

Now imagine a combination of this “wisdom of the crowd” system, with your own expert opinions, when trying to give your recommendation or making a decision in your own company.

It is interesting to see that we still rely solely on individual analysts working within a silo, while addressing more and more complicated situations in which there may not be just one right answer or conclusion.

The Simple Way to Make a Decision

Usually this is the section in which one would suggest a complicated solution and method. Instead, allow me to suggest a simple, well-structured and proven method:

  1. Ask the right question to start the discussion
  2. Attach relevant data to allow a common baseline for the discussion
  3. Allow members to write down their different answers
  4. Discuss each of the answers in order to come up with the best solution as a team
  5. Decide – Write down the decision and attach the relevant answers it was based on

This encourages different members from different departments in your organization with different perspectives to discuss complex business questions. It allows the team to debate and eventually come to a decision based on the organizational collective knowledge.

In other words, a simple methodology allows to improve decision-making procedures and reduce mistakes when facing uncertain situations and challenges.  

Analysts of the World Unite!

While it may not be all of us right away, the day may not be as far as one might think. is a great place to start discussing and making decisions on challenging topics which have an influence on your team and field of expertise.

“Most discussions of decision making assume that only senior executives make decisions or that only senior executives’ decisions matter. This is a dangerous mistake.” Peter Drucker


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