Tuesday, July 17, 2012


An engineer, a physician and an economist were sitting at an outdoor cafe. They noticed that two people entered a building across the street. A little while later they observed that three people came out. "Oh, no," the engineer said, "my measurements must have been wrong." "Obviously," the physician concluded, "they reproduced." "But now," countered the economist, "if another person walks into the building, it'll be empty."

Often we look at too narrow a range of data and interpret it solely from our own knowledge base. In business, we mistakenly compare week-to-week and month-to-month data points thinking that any variation is significant and must be explained. Just like the engineer, physician and economist.

Quite a few years ago in the 1990's, the US Congress tried to take credit for a reduction in inflation through their fiscal actions. However, a chart of inflation rates shows that the dip was hardly a blip in the overall variation.
U.S. Historical Inflation Rates
Source: http://www.thedigeratilife.com/blog/index.php/2007/09/17/watch-prices-go-up-interesting-facts-about-inflation/

As you look at data in your business, make sure you've got a healthy perspective. Seek more than one opinion, especially beyond your own, or you might come to inane conclusions like the engineer, physician and economist.

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