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Leverage anecdotes and data
1 min read

Leverage anecdotes and data

When building dashboards - keep in mind to not become myopic to just the numbers on the dashboard. The anecdotes matter too.

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anecdote/ˈanɪkdəʊt/ - a short amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person.

If you are a musician and you need to tune your instrument - which is quite frequently and almost always before you want to play - the general rule is to tune the instrument individually and then in relation to the other parts.

Say you are tuning a guitar, you not only tune your strings to be in E, A, D, G, B, and E, but would also play a chord or play scales to ensure that the strings are in tune with each other.

The same kind of rule applies when you are looking at a system to optimise. You want to look at the data, but you also want to listen to the anecdotes. There are times that the anecdotes will help you find holes in the the things you are measuring and help optimise it.

Data is also macro - you might see from data in your dashboard that your supply chain is as optimised as it can and ranks quite well in terms of industry standards, but if you are getting conflicting anecdotes from your customers in terms of delays etc, then it is worth looking into.

Sometimes the anecdotes bring out edge cases that you haven't factored in and that is also the space to innovate and bring about fresh thinking.

Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon talks about how they use this effectively. He says that while there are metrics that the departments measure to gauge the efficiency of the system, it is those customer emails that he receives (which he then forwards with a "?" to the appropriate department heads) which validates their dashboard.

Dashboards are macro. Anecdotes are grassroot. Improving a system means you can't just think macro or micro, but you have to balance them both. It is the balancing of the quantitative with the qualitative. Leverage anecdotes AND data to help you get a realistic view.

Hope you win!

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