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Taking a Rubik’s Cube Approach to Data-Driven Decision-Making

“It’s a capital mistake to theorize before one has data”- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Have you tried solving the Rubik’s cube? Chances are the first couple of attempts went into just solving one face of the cube. As you moved on to the other faces, the one face you had solved got all mixed up. You tried and tried and then frustrated gave up, saying, “it’s too complex”. Or you persisted, got the right information, understood how the cube could be solved and used multiple permutations and combinations until you solved the entire cube.
In both cases, you will notice, is that it is easy to solve the first phase – getting one face right. As the complexity increases, so does the chaos. The story is quite similar with data. There is no need to reiterate the growing importance of data in our business environment today. If you are not using data and are successful, then you have lady luck on your side. And you can hope that she stays with you forever. All others use data for fortune to favor them.
But as the use of data increases, so does its growing complexity. Technological advancements, greater computing power, greater storage capacity can be credited for this. We now gather data internally, externally and from third parties. Automated systems are generating data. The social network provides you data….data, data, data…we could say that we are ‘literally’ drowning in this deluge as what good is the data if it cannot aptly power your decision making?
So, what can we do to stay afloat and emerge strong swimmers in this data flood? Why not take a Rubik’s cube approach to solve this problem?

Bring order to chaos

First things first. You need to wrangle data to bring order to chaos. What is the chaos you ask?
We live in urgent times where we are under constant pressure to rush decisions. This environment becomes more chaotic when you are awash with data coming from too many sources. This urgency coupled with the massive sea of data usually washes us ashore each time we venture into it. So, what can you do?
The first step would be to take a step back and assess ‘how can this data help me’, ‘what do I want to achieve with this data’, ‘where do I start’? Ask yourself what problem you want to solve, identify the lowest hanging fruit and then begin your data journey. Isn’t it like the Rubiks cube? You can only solve the whole puzzle when you know how each moving part works to contribute to the big picture.

Complex does not mean difficult

It’s human nature to assume that if something is complex, it must be difficult. The Rubiks Cube is a glaring example.
The small cube looks incredibly complex. But did you know that you can solve this entire cube using less than 15 algorithms? Now does this mean that the Rubiks Cube is not complex? Absolutely not. But does it mean that it is difficult? No, again!
While making the data talk might seem complex, it is in fact not a difficult thing to do. It will, of course, seem difficult and often downright impossible if you go about it in a haphazard manner. So, what do you need to make such complex data appear easy to use? All you need is to know what you are looking for, assess what data to look for to achieve that goal and learn how to process it, you can get the insights you need. Easily.

Are you working hard or hardly working?

Let’s talk about that abysmal feeling when you feel you’ve been working really hard but getting nowhere. In such situations, is your effort to be blamed? We don’t think so. Because of your intentions and efforts that you have been putting to work. But are you getting the results you wanted? If not, then does it not make sense to evaluate what you have been doing wrong and understand if you have been setting yourself for failure?
If you feel that your data is not working for you or is not helping you refine and accelerate your decision-making process, ask yourself this – “is my data working hard or is it hardly working?”
When it comes to decision making, a data-driven approach will only be fruitful if you are using the right data. Unless your data is right, you will just waste your time spinning around in circles, getting exhausted and getting nowhere.
If you keep trying to solve the Rubik’s cube without the right data and knowledge, you’ll just be wasting your time trying to solve the cube. But with the right data in hand, you can apply the algorithms according to the outcome you want.

Integration is crucial

Have you noticed that while we might solve one face of the Rubik’s cube with like colors, when you want to solve the whole puzzle, you have to look at the cube in its entirety? You have to take one face at a time, but you cannot ignore the other faces…because each move, each block, each twist, and each turn will impact your overall outcome.
Similarly, to drive data-driven decision-making, you need an integrated approach by looking at this from an organizational viewpoint. If you want to enable data-driven decision-making, you have to establish a data culture. And to do that you have to employ an integrated strategy to bring all departments together and then drive the data impact by enabling data-driven decision making across the scale.

Combinatorial optimization – There is no place for isolation

When you solve the Rubik’s puzzle, you’ll know how one move impacts another. All the states (the transformations we achieve while rotating the cube leads us to distinct states of the cube) are intrinsically intertwined. So, if you rotate the cube left side clockwise you get one state. Rotation of the same side counter-clockwise will destroy the state of this transformation and take the cube back to the original state. Clearly, you cannot look at anything in isolation if you want an impact.

The case is quite similar when it comes to data and decision-making. How can you drive value and create an impact if you view the data from a singular lens? Will such a unidirectional approach not induce myopia in decision making?

It is thus logical to assume that when you want to reap the benefits of data, you have to explore it, exploit it and wrangle it from multiple directions. Reviewing the data from different business aspects first and then taking the decisions you need to take makes complete sense.

So, if your data has not been working for you the way you expected, maybe instead of blaming the data, it is time to take a close look at how you’re working that data.

Are you mindful of your approach? Are you using the right data? Is your data strategy right? Or you could just connect with us and see how we can solve your data challenges…the Rubics way.