Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Data Is Only As Good As Your Understanding

Newspapers, finance magazines and the Big Four all say data is the most valuable currency. And I say that’s all a bunch of baloney.

Let me demonstrate.

Here’s John Smith, a lawyer. He’s 49 years old and six feet and two inches tall. His shoe size is ten. He’s happily married and has two children, both of which are living on campus at Georgetown University. John lives in the outskirts of Washington DC and reads the Wall Street Journal before he drives his Honda Civic to work.

Riddle me this, why doesn’t John read the New York Times even though he perfectly fits inside its demographic?

I don’t know either. But I do know it has nothing to do with the above list of datapoints.

Because even though there might be a connection between earning six figures and being subscribed to a financial paper, a big paycheck has never subscribed to a newspaper by itself.

In other words, people aren’t guided by the statistics they happen to be a part of. Rather, they take life as it comes. And if someone is faced with a problem, they look for a solution in the form of a product.

So if you’re knee deep in data, searching for the magical pattern that will increase sales or lead to better products, you might be wasting your time.

Not until you know why your customers buy from you will your hard earned data sets reliably predict which new business ideas are best.

And don’t take this task lightly. Peter Drucker has famously said, “The customer rarely buys what the company thinks it is selling him.”

Overconfidence leads many organisations to tossing seeds on concrete in hopes of harvesting fruit.

But only if you take the time to understand why people do business with you, will you find a dependable tool for growth

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach