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Anecdotes vs. Data

The difference between a growing company and a stagnant or dying company is the company culture.

The difference between a growing company culture and a dying company culture is its ability to sift between anecdotes and data.

An anecdote will masquerade as data. It’ll have numbers and be used to prove a point.

People feel conclusions with it. They think, they “know”, they explain. And most of what they tell is stories.

Data seeps into the bones. Those who understand it walk through the world like a knife through butter. Everything is easier for them. Because they know exactly what works and what doesn’t. What’s repeatable and what isn’t. What’s reliable and what isn’t.

The unsure individual bases their life on anecdotes. Most of the time their brain is processing memories trying to examine why something happened so they can avoid it in the future.

They live in the past while fearing the future, shaken.

The confident individual validates their life with data. Decisions are made, conclusions placed, and truth is sought.

The only time they are shaken is when there is discrepancy in the data. And then they rush to fix it.

The anecdoters collect data. They do not shy away from it. They think the more data they have, the better. The more things they measure and optimize, the better. But they stay staring at a picture album representation of the company, hoping to glimpse a flip book one day.

The ones that know data do not worship data. They watch the movie that is the company and glean slivers of truth. They optimize the system as a whole, with slight touches, a nudge here or there.

Which one are you? Do you know how to spot the other?

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