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An employee is flummoxed by a set of opinions without data about how to proceed on a project

Without data you're just another person with an opinion

Data avoids arguments.

So does the willingness to seek out data. If none of us has data to share then we can't help but bring our own personal biases, preferences, and opinions to the table — anyone might be right, but who's to say (often the HiPPO: the Highest Paid Person's Opinion)? It's why I love this quote from W. Edwards Deming:

"Without data you're just another person with an opinion."

Perhaps you've been in a car with several backseat drivers who all seem to know better than the driver. Or maybe you've been part of a review for a new initiative where everyone has their own views of what will make it succeed. Or a discussion on what's driving some unexpected behaviour. We can't know who's right until we bring some data. It's amazing how even a little data can avoid an "I'm right, you're wrong" situation.

And where there isn't data, framing a discussion on how to quickly gather data or experiment to find out which approach may be best so often focuses a team, removing ego and opinions.

After all, as Jim Barksdale, former Netscape CEO said:

"If we have data, let's look at data. If all we have are opinions, let's go with mine."

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