‘Bad data’ doesn’t exist (but ‘good data’ is a thing!)

‘Bad data’ doesn’t exist (but ‘good data’ is a thing!)

Some things in life are debatable. When it comes to politics, books, or movies, for example, people engage in heated discussions to convince others of their views. During Thanksgiving dinners and at birthday parties, words like “good,” “bad,” “beautiful,” and “terrible” fly around the room.

In these cases, your truth isn’t the truth. Opinions are subjective by definition.

So far so good. But what if data comes into the equation? It’s only logical to have an opinion about it. However, your opinion gives rise to a more problematic question. What if you think a certain piece of information is absolute garbage? What does that say about its very nature — if anything?

In other words, is there such a thing as bad data?

What is good data?

Data in itself doesn’t mean anything. Facts are facts. Period. So, bad data doesn’t exist. But if you present people with information that’s completely useless to them (or, worse, overwhelms and confuses them), they’ll label it as ‘bad data.’ And within their specific context, they will have a point.

But the same information might be incredibly helpful in another situation. So perhaps we should phrase it differently: whereas bad data isn’t a thing, good data is.

And here’s the definition of good data: information you provide to the right people in the right context using the right tools. The latter comprise skills, responsibilities, and decision-making power.

How to get good data: filter before sharing

Let’s briefly talk call center statistics. Many organizations display the average handling time. But how is that useful to people on the work floor? Only analysts and management can make structural changes based on this data.

Call center agents need actionable, real-time information that helps them do their jobs and improve customer satisfaction on the spot. If you show them the average handling time, it might make them nervous. Some will probably rush through calls, which will result in unhappy customers. So sharing this type of data in this context can actually harm your company.

The same goes for historical data. It’s useful for analysis purposes, but you shouldn’t share it with employees who need to make decisions right now. They require actionable, topical information that empowers them to make the right choices. So, start filtering (tip: be very selective!) and only provide them with good data.

Want to explore your Visual Management opportunities? Please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re happy to perform a Quick Scan and discuss your information sharing strategy.

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