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On average: we learn nothing from averages?

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How we make decisions is usually based on data, how you read that data is heavily misled by averages, try using data in a more insightful way.

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Published in: Leadership & Management
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  • I've long maintained that if you manage to average you have to expect an average result. You need to establish the maximum potential in whatever you are trying to achieve and then strive, strive, strive....
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  • Um, at the risk of being "one of those people", I would say the author used the wrong meansure of central tendency (ie the average) for the data (ie response time). I get it - you need a measure of central tendency and dispersion to fully characterize a data set (eg mean + std dev) but you also need to use the right descriptors based on what you are measuring. We would expect average to be misleading when dealing with time or cost data, as it is highly influenced by outliers, which we would expect with cost and time. Of course I could be wrong.
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  • There are plenty of people who follow the data, make correct inferences, and apply the most suitable solutions. Your broad generalisations are blanketing those of us who think.
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  • Not only ''we learn nothing from averages'' but we can be seriously misled by them, especially when the trend is negative or when the performance is inconsistent from day to day
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On average: we learn nothing from averages?

  1. 1. ON AVERAGE… We learn nothing from averages?
  2. 2. How you measure your business impacts your ability to manage your business
  3. 3. On average my temperature is OK
  4. 4. When my head is in an oven
  5. 5. And my feet are in a freezer
  6. 6. But I am dead
  7. 7. Look for trends a line indicating the general course or tendency of something yesterday response time Average says we are OK Trend tells us we get slower as the day progresses
  8. 8. Look for range the difference between the highest and lowest values in the data set yesterday response time Average says we are OK Range tells us we are inconsistent and will have happy and unhappy customers
  9. 9. Look at outliers unusual items which are outside the data range we normally expect yesterday response time Average says we are OK Outliers tell us a problem happened earlier today
  10. 10. “in God we trust, all others must bring data” W. Edwards Deming
  11. 11. Leave average for average people in average businesses

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