January 22, 2023 – Last week, our colleague Jonathan Kendall called attention to a post of a fellow Linkedin user, Matthew Potter.
Kendall wrote: [quote] “A really big theme of the last few years has been the virtual obsession about big data. This post is just excellent because like me I’m sure many of you have experienced a situation where the strategic conclusions made from data turned out be misinterpreted and misunderstood leading to significant poor decisions.
It’s the analysis of data and the use of experienced people within a business that’s key. Far too often data is presented to support a ‘textbook view’ by people that are simply too far removed from reality and often lack the experience required to present/make the right suggestions that lead to appropriate decisions,” [end quote].
Matthew Potter wrote: [quote] “During World War II, fighter planes would come back from battle with bullet holes. The Allies found the areas that were most commonly hit by enemy fire. They sought to strengthen the most commonly damaged parts of the planes to reduce the number that was shot down.
A mathematician, Abraham Wald, pointed out that perhaps there was another way to look at the data. Perhaps the reason certain areas of the planes weren’t covered in bullet holes was that planes that were shot in those areas did not return. This insight led to the armor being re-enforced on the parts of the plane where there were no bullet holes.
The story behind the data is arguably more important than the data itself. Or more precisely, the reason behind why we are missing certain pieces of data may be more meaningful than the data we have. “ [end quote]
Like Jonathan, I thought this was a refreshing way of looking at things. “The real challenge,” as one commentator to the post wrote “lies in the known unknown.”
Last week, our Honorary President, Jeffrey Fisher, noted that “75 percent of the polished diamonds sold in the market are not branded and that we depend on generic diamond promotion to create and sustain that desire and emotion about diamonds. Most of this,” he continued, is done by the Natural Diamond Council (NDC), where the diamond industry and trade’s input and involvement are minimal, as is the support it needs.”
The above Linkedin post made me wonder: How effective are the current generic diamond promotion activities of the NDC. What data does the NDC use? Are we so close to the known data that we are missing unexplored data that could be essential to new out-of-the-box thinking?
I do not have the answers. But I loved the observations and questions they generated.
Note: There is disagreement about whether this story about the mathematician Abraham Wald is correct. Follow the link, and you’re in for another interesting article! The math is probably beyond many of us, but the text part is instructive. https://www.ams.org/publicoutreach/feature-column/fc-2016-06