Data! Data! Data! Advice from the World’s Favorite Consulting Detective

“‘Data! data! data!’ he cried impatiently. ‘I can’t make bricks without clay.’”

– Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Copper Beeches

Typically, we turn to analytics and BI experts for data advice … but this time, we’re hitting up British novelist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his beloved character, Sherlock Holmes.

If Sherlock Holmes is known for anything, it’s his superhuman capacity for observation and logical reasoning. In every story, film, or TV episode that features Holmes, it isn’t the mystery that delights audiences, but his unravelling of it. Audiences love to see how he lays out the jaw-dropping details of each clue to build his mind-blowing solution.

The thing is, leading a business can be a lot like solving a mystery: It’s a complex puzzle with lots of moving parts to figure out, analyze, and manipulate.

As Holmes describes, data is a building block for businesses—or, rather, the clay with which those blocks are made. In any case, data should play a foundational role in developing and executing your strategy.

A complex relationship

For many businesses, the relationship between data and strategy is complicated, even convoluted—worse than Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler.

Mistakes from misunderstanding this relationship are common: Article writers bend statistics to favor their objectives; employees cherry-pick reports that make them look good and ignore the ones that don’t; business leaders look at data after they’ve executed their strategy, rather than before…

Don’t get us wrong—we’re not here to dish out blame. These mistakes are usually made with good intentions. Business leaders know how important data is and want to put it to use, but often, they unintentionally put the cart before the horse.

Businesses need to ensure that data informs strategy, and not the other way around. To put it in Sherlock Holmes’ words:

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”
– Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes

It’s vitally important to understand your data and use it correctly so that you can use it to drive your business.

Developing a data-driven strategy

The fact is, becoming a data-driven business is easier said than done. It takes a lot of work to figure out how to incorporate data into your business’s strategy, but it’s worth doing.

One of the best ways to start doing this is to make data an elemental part of your business’s culture—something that you consult every single day that’s visually designed for quick, easy interpretation.

When you have constant visibility into your data rather than waiting on monthly reports, it stays top-of-mind. It becomes familiar to you, and you’re able to read and understand it as easily as you read and understand your own pulse. Once-elusive answers become clear and simple, and incorporating data into strategy becomes second nature.

We don’t want to say you become Sherlock Holmes … but yeah, you kind of do.

Grow’s data dashboards make it simple

Grow makes it easy to build data into your company’s DNA. We attach the spreadsheets and applications you’re already using to dashboards that display data in beautiful, clear visualizations.

You don’t have to be a data whiz kid to get powerful insight from your data. These data dashboards are designed for the non-analyst, so they’re easy to use. And our amazing customer support team is trained to take you from twelve open tabs to a single window that showcases your most important data.

With Grow, your numbers aren’t just another business headache—they’re clues to solve your next mystery, or uncover your next great opportunity.

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