January 17, 2019

The Importance Of Evidence

We all like to think we are rational, right? Driven by logic and the scientific method. Savvy decision-makers. Spock-like.

Of course, most of the time, we’re not. And in many cases, that’s just fine.

But when a really big decision comes along—like one that makes or breaks the future of a product or business—it behooves us to test our gut. If we are thatconfident that we know the right path forward, we shouldn’t be afraid to label our instinct a “hypothesis” and test it alongside some other options.

The resulting evidence either validates your gut feel—or saves you from failure or embarrassment. It may even help you identify a winning path that never occurred to you. So collect your evidence, put on your pointy ears, and start building a bulletproof case for your big decision.

Professor Plum. The Library. A Wrench.

Picture every great classic mystery drama ever… Our detective—Miss Marple or Sherlock Holmes or, um, Bones—has assembled all the suspects in one room. Dramatic pauses ensue, as our heroine leads us through the evidence, clearing up micro-mysteries while building toward the big reveal. By the time we know who did it, any revulsion we had about the crime has been blotted out by our awe at how neatly the case has been laid out.

And this is why people who use data to build a case can’t do it with data science alone. It’s not enough to have evidence (data); you need to present it logically, convincingly, and in a way that your audience understands. This piece about using data to persuade is an excellent guide to the skills required to make the most of data and analysis.

Start Climbing

If you are pitching your startup to potential investors, you probably know that you should have a slide called “milestones.” But what are they, exactly?

Here’s what they are not: events like “hired CMO’” or “moved into office.” Instead, milestones are tangible evidence that your startup has legs—things like “acquired first paying customers” or “reduced CAC to affordable level.” And indeed, you will need strong legs to keep climbing the so-called ladder of proof described in this useful post that explains “how VCs see your company.” Hat-tip to Ron Williams of Proof Labs for sharing this one with us.

We Need To Talk About Data

If you have a lot of “evidence” and need to know what to do with it, TED can help. These seven TED talks about data science cover everything from how humans learn language to curly fries to how data drives technological change.

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