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Truth is not a weapon.
Don't be that analyst.
👋 Hello! I’m Robert, CPO of Hyperquery and former data scientist + analyst. Welcome to Win With Data, where we talk weekly about maximizing the impact of data. Find me on LinkedIn or Twitter — I’m always happy to chat. If you enjoyed this post, I’d appreciate a follow/like/share. 🙂
Truth is not a weapon, so don’t bash people over the head with it.
I’ve always tried my best to pursue truth (intellectual honesty, not absolute objective truth, mind you), because I’d hold that this is the greatest value one can offer as an analyst, as an executive, as a decent human being.1 Certainly, any absolute sense of truth is quite impossible to achieve. But truth insofar as you are faithfully portraying the present circumstances, your primary objectives, and the reasons behind your suggestions are — objectivity, really — is at least approachable.
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Unfortunately, there's an insidious barnacle that too often attaches itself to truth: self-righteousness. You likely know this flavor of truth well. It’s the statistics Ph.D. that pedantically criticizes everyone's work in the name of rigor. It’s the manager that holds hostage their direct reports' work until it’s perfect. It’s the steadfast contrarian, always stymieing business impact in the pursuit of so-called “truth” (but really, it’s about being right), while stakeholders grope in the dark, screaming for any rough estimate. And it has incredible staying power in companies. It’s Batesian mimicry, after all — I know king snakes aren’t venomous, but I nonetheless wouldn’t risk approaching one in the wild. Likewise, overconfident pedants may be full of hot air, but they also may know something others don't, and even if not, it’s tough to make that bet.2
But self-righteousness attached to truth is paradoxical. Even if no one discovers your ruse, please. Be. Better. Our industry is at stake. This is a short post, but the only point I want to make: don't be that person. Ironically, it will only pull you further from the intellectual honesty you so righteously claim to pursue.
I want to clarify, following my last post on the subject, that I mean objectivity more than I mean any sense of absolute truth, if such a thing even exists.
I'm being a bit allegorical, I'm not actually like this (at least I hope not).