Why being passionately curious makes the difference between a good and a good analysis

In a letter to his first biographer Carl Seelig, Albert Einstein said: “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious. “It is difficult to understand how Einstein – one of the most influential physicists of the twentieth century – did not consider himself particularly talented other than”passionately curious. “However, his stubborn and boundless curiosity drove him to make incredible discoveries for all mankind.

In an age of unprecedented data, we need curiousity more than ever. In order to translate your growing stock of data into value, your organization will need to sift through this information to actionable information. In the past, this responsibility rested mainly with quants – analysts, researchers and statisticians. However, with the introduction of self-service analytics tools and the increase in data democratization, more individuals and teams are empowered to participate in this crucial task. This can no longer be the sole responsibility of your business intelligence (BI) or analytics team.

Interestingly, information can come in different forms, and not all of them will be of equal value to your organization. Some information will be very tactical in nature and create small incremental advantages. Meanwhile, other information can have far-reaching results with millions of dollars in cost savings or benefits. While it’s always possible to find useful information in simple data sets or at the surface level of your business data, often you have to dig deeper to get more meaningful information that will move the needle.

In search of critical information

Over the past few years my sons have started fishing during the summer months. A few years ago I offered them an inshore fishing expedition when we visited Costa Rica. A local fishing guide took our family to different promising places and one of my sons almost fell into a mahi-mahi. While we couldn’t catch anything of importance on this particular excursion, the deeper Pacific Ocean promised a much bigger prize than the small trout they caught in our local Utah lakes.

Likewise, the equivalent of a huge bluefin tuna will not be fished on the shallow shores of your data lake. You have to head into deeper water to find them, and it can take hours to haul one up.

In these situations, I think the best analysis happens when it comes to a collaborative effort between business and analytics / data science teams. While my sons know how to catch a fish, they would have gotten lost in the open water without the help of a seasoned fishing guide. Similarly, your analysts know how to leverage tools and navigate data, and sales teams can help them focus on the answer. meaningful questions aligned with strategic priorities. A close partnership between these two teams will often lead to smarter questions and much better analytical results than if each party tried alone.

Curiosity is the spark, but passion and tenacity are the fuel

While curiosity may initiate the search for information, passion and tenacity will support your efforts to land the big fish lurking in your data. In your relentless pursuit of ideas, you will need to demonstrate several other traits along the way, such as patience, open-mindedness, creativity, and critical thinking. Without persistence and determination, your analysis simply will not achieve the same results. To illustrate the importance of passionate curiosity in the analysis process, I would like to share a story that Shawn Callahan, the founder of Anecdote, recently shared with me.

An analyst for one of Callahan’s insurance clients noticed a potentially fraudulent claim. When the analyst shared his observation with his manager, he was told to check the individual’s social media accounts for further evidence. From the reckless activities of the individual posted online, it was clear that he had lied about his personal injury claim. Rather than attacking the individual directly as the analyst wanted, his manager encouraged the analyst to be more patient and to explore more of the individual’s network of associates.

The analyst found that several of this individual’s social contacts also submitted similar fraudulent claims. When he had compiled and presented a long list of offenders, his manager was still not satisfied. He asked her to dig even deeper and identify a possible connection. After another investigation, the analyst found that all of the claimants shared the same doctor and lawyer, the brains behind a multi-million dollar insurance scam.

At different stages of his analysis journey, the analyst could have been content with a fish much smaller than the one he finally landed. Disputing a single fraudulent claim would not have had much of an impact on the insurance company’s bottom line. Discovering a group of insurance scammers would have made a small dent, but uncovering the perpetrators of an ongoing crime has had a remarkable impact on the organization. The combined and passionate curiosity of the manager and analyst is what made this crucial understanding possible.

Go beyond the obvious to the less apparent

Simple curiosity will help you find the first interesting observation or idea. However, passion and tenacity will lead you to more meaningful ideas, pushing you beyond. what is obvious To which is less apparent. In some cases, you may be able to muster the determination within yourself, and in other situations, you may be the one pushing someone else – like the manager above – to take it further. search for an elusive hold.

Einstein is also credited with the following saying (without a good source): “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” Like the great physicist, I encourage you to hang on to your analytical problems a little longer in order to land a great insight – a trophy fish. At the end of the day, being passionately curious is what really separates a good analysis from a good analysis. The analysts and the data scientists you want to hire and work with are the ones who have this unique trait. Plus, business leaders who can inspire this level of curiosity in their teams and analysts will propel their organizations to even greater heights.

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