Practices

Core Values for Data Science

Donald Trump's surprise 2016 electoral victory forced me to reflect on the role of data in election prognostication, but more specifically on my own experiences helping organizations use data to make predictions and decisions. In doing so, I recognized two values critical to analytical success that were not only missing from many of the election forecasts, but have also been absent in the media hype around big data and advanced analytics. Both data scientists and [...]

By | December 1st, 2016|Practices|

Handling Complexity: The Checklist Manifesto for Professional Services

I just finished reading Atul Gawande's The Checklist Manifesto - a book that has been sitting on my kindle for an embarrassing amount of time, but which I put off because I thought reading the New Yorker article was enough.  I was wrong: this is one of the most important books I've read for thinking about ways to improve professional practices. Gawande tells the story of the WHO's Safe Surgery Checklist, a tool that, among [...]

By | July 20th, 2016|Practices|

Why Are All the Polls Wrong?

Going into last week's parliamentary election in the UK, commentators were predicting an election so close it would precipitate a constitutional crisis: opinion polls predicted no party would have a majority in the house of commons or an obvious coalition to form one. Yet when the votes were counted, it turned out that the Conservative Party actually gained 25 seats, enough to form a government with a comfortable majority, rather than losing seats as most [...]

By | May 11th, 2015|Practices|

It’s Not What’s In Your Toolbox, It’s What You Build With It

Imagine you're doing a renovation on your house and you meet with contractor to see if he's the right person for the job.  He shows off his toolbox - that he has wrenches, hammers, saws, pliers, and a full set of ratchets.  He tells you that he knows how to use every tool in that box.  Do you think you'd give him the business?  Of course not - you don't care about his toolbox.  In [...]

By | May 1st, 2013|Practices|