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Never trust a statistic?

Everybody hates and loves statistics. Right? If we can, we use statistics to obtain buy-in. Otherwise we might argue against them. They always say: “Never trust a statistic that you haven’t manipulated yourself.”

Regardless of what we think about statistics, we are constantly being bombarded by them. News, websites, TV, etc.. They are everywhere. In business we drown in metrics. In our personal lives we suffocate from mind-boggling numbers like deficits, deaths, cost and you name it. But there is a fundamental flaw with the way we communicate data points: They are often meaningless. Because we do not understand them. What’s a 23 billion USD deficit? Hmm…a lot of money. As much as I hate to quote a dictator, but there is truth in the words: Joseph Stalin apparently said: “One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic.”

When we quote numbers we need to make sure that we put things into context. We need to make numbers more relevant for them to have impact.

In a future post, I will provide some tips for making data in reports & dashboards more relevant. Watch this inspiring yet frustrating performance by Chris Jordan to find out more about the blinding side of numbers: