Blinded by the data blizzard?
In 2014, this volume of data was produced, each minute:
- 204 million email messages were sent
- Google received more than 4 million search queries
- 2.46 million pieces of content were shared on Facebook
- 277,000 tweets were sent, along with 48,000 apps downloaded
- 26,380 reviews were posted on Yelp! and 216,000 photos posted on Instagram
- 3,472 images were pinned to Pinterest, and
- 72 hours of new video were uploaded to YouTube
In Digital Destiny, Shawn DuBravac, PhD, reminds us there’s no need to remember these figures. They are obsolete. The quantities are far greater today. However, these facts show something very important: the huge scale and speed of data production.
Data is everywhere in your organization, community, home and life. Managing effectively depends on measuring accurately. The careful use of data sets strategy, creates programs, provides feedback, shows potential for improvement and displays outcomes.
With increasing frequency, we see metrics, indicators and findings mis-used. To support a conclusion or point of view, some people consciously (and unconsciously) will generate or select data to suit their purpose. It’s a strong way to market any message.
There’s no public or private “regulator” that practically sorts this for you. The volume and quality of data used across many contexts presents tremendous challenges for those with little measurement experience or awareness.
Professionals who handle data routinely know and practice ethical standards for data use. What can you do? Here’s a start: listen to skeptics; trust your intuition; ask hard questions to challenge assumptions, methods and sources; read more about metrics; understand limitations in findings; secure an independent review by an ethical evaluator.
Data can be very powerful in the right hands, heads and hearts. Because of this, every manager-leader needs data literacy. Sorting out the signals from the noise is a vital skill in demonstrating value, for learning and creating change.
-Lisa Wyatt, Ed.D. is chief strategy officer and partner in Phillips Wyatt Knowlton, Inc. PWK is a performance management resource for systems and social change with clients worldwide. Lisa has cross-sector and international experience. She is an author and W.K. Kellogg Leadership Fellow. See: www.pwkinc.com