Find hidden insights in your data: Ask why and why again | @acotgreave

Find hidden insights in your data: Ask why and why again | @acotgreave

Embrace your inner child when analyzing data — ask the data “why,” rather than “what”

By Senior Technical Evangelist

cw ac topimage2

We’ve all encountered a curious little kid who wouldn’t stop asking “why.” But did you ever think that, in the business world, you should actually aim to be that kid? That’s because people — whether we’re talking about children, journalists, scientists, managers or data analysts — don’t succeed by simply asking “what.”

Let’s say sales are down, costs are high and resources are underused — all familiar scenarios, right? Being able to identify these problems is the easy part. The hard but crucial part is actually getting to the root cause of a problem so you can take action.

How do you do that? By asking why, and then asking it again.

There’s a good chance you’re familiar with something called the “5 Whys” technique. Sakichi Toyoda, who’s known in Japan as the “King of Japanese Inventors” and the founder of Toyota Motors, created it. In a nutshell, you ask “why” of a problem that’s been identified, and then continue asking “why” for each answer or explanation given. The primary goal of the technique is to determine the root cause of a defect so you can fix it.

Many businesses don’t enable this, to their detriment. Lots of businesses have dashboards or reports. They’re great at answering the “what” questions but what happens when you need to know more about what the data is showing? To apply the “5 Whys” technique, you need to be able explore the data beyond the limits of the dashboard. This way, you can answer the unexpected questions.

Put another way, dashboards should be the start, not the end.

Let’s walk through an example.

Read more…

Find hidden insights in your data: Ask why and why again

We’ve all encountered a curious little kid who wouldn’t stop asking “why.” But did you ever think that, in the business world, you should actually aim to be that kid? That’s because people — whether we’re talking about children, journalists, scientists, managers or data analysts — don’t succeed by simply asking “what.”

 

The following two tabs change content below.

Eric Axelrod

President & Chief Architect at DIGR
I have helped companies bring new data driven products to market, drive efficiency out of their supply chain, execute strategic plans, and drive top line and bottom line growth by enabling every business function with actionable analytics. I can transform a business which is lacking critical insight into an agile, strategic, data driven organization.

Leave a Reply