Facts are not insights


The other day I noticed that my LinkedIn mobile app had a section that provided “Insights” about my account:

  • Nine people have viewed me that week
  • Nine viewers found me from someone similar to me
  • Two viewers were from Bloomington/Normal, IL
  • Seven viewers have the title Human Resources Specialist
  • Six viewers are from the Professional training and Coaching Industry

Facebook provides similar “insights” about my pages.  In fact, I see these kinds of “insights” all of the time.  I saw a recent business unit update that had “the following items literally labelled as “insights”:

  • Florida had the highest sales for the quarter
  • Our overall expenses are down 10%
  • Five states had decreases in operating margin this past month

The problem is that these aren’t insights.  Would you consider the following statements to be insights?

  • The sun is 93,000,000 miles from earth
  • There are sixty minutes in an hour
  • The cube root of 27 is 3

Passing off facts as insights is poor analytics and lazy thinking. It’s easier and requires less actual understanding of the business. Perhaps that is why it is happening so much.  The easiest way to appear “data-driven” is to show a lot of numbers.  However, that’s just an illusion. Shepherding facts does not make you data-driven.

A true insight synthesizes several facts within the broader context of your business.  Insights drive decision making.

Stop passing off facts as insight.  Take the time to understand what those facts mean and their implication on the business.  Then, talk about that.  That’s how you’ll create real value with your data.

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2 thoughts on “Facts are not insights


  • Barbara Peterson says:

    Really enjoyed your talk at Orbitz today! Checking out your website now, loved this piece, will continue to peruse your “insights”, and check out your book. Thanks for your time today!

    August 20, 2015

    • Brad Kolar says:

      Hi Barbara

      I’m glad that you enjoyed the talk. I hope you found it useful. I’d love to hear your feedback on the session or on any of the links on the website.

      brad

      August 20, 2015

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