The purpose of collecting data is to take some action using the data. And, taking action is often one of the most challenging steps in any type of data collection process. Obviously, it doesn’t make sense to collect data and not do anything with it. Taking action is implied. The data might help us make a decision, notice a trend, or monitor our effectiveness.
But when we get lots of data, it can be tempting to spend ridiculous amounts of time studying it. Today’s Time Well Spent from our friends at Kronos is a reminder that sometimes technology can help us analyze the data. So, we don’t need to overthink it.
To avoid overthinking the data (sometimes known as “analysis paralysis”), consider these three things:
- Have a target in mind. I often think that this step isn’t given enough attention. There’s a reason that the data is being collected in the first place. It might be to understand where the best recruiting sources can be found. Or how to schedule employee coverage that meets customer needs. Before getting into the weeds with data, understand the goal of collecting the data.
- Realize you might never have all the data. Alas, as much as we love technology and its capabilities, we need to cut technology some slack. Technology is only as good as the data we give it. Which means, if we give our systems incomplete information, we should expect incomplete data analysis. The good news is that we can identify these empty pockets of data and figure out how to fill them.
- Be okay with making a wrong decision. I’ve worked with a couple of people in my career who thought the way to never make a wrong decision was by never making a decision. Simply not true. One of my favorite quotes from John F. Kennedy says it best. “There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long-range risks of comfortable inaction.”
Data brings tremendous value to business. But only if we do something with it. Overthinking the data can stop individuals and organizations from moving forward.2