At Amazon despite all the data, anecdotes still winning arguments

Because context and humanity still necessary no matter how many metrics are in place

Joseph Emmi
May 7, 2018 · 2 min read

No matter how much data or metrics Amazon might have, when there’s an issue they not only rely on their numbers, they seek for context and meaning from real-life anecdotes, and guess what? Usually, when data and anecdotes don’t match, the latter tend to be right, at least that’s the experience told by Amazon’s CEO himself, Jeff Bezos.

“The thing I have noticed is that when the anecdotes and the data disagree, the anecdotes are usually right. There is something wrong with the way that you are measuring it,”

This made me think in the approach many organisations might be taking, aiming to heavily rely just on data as the ultimate answer, forgetting that is is not more than another tool, one very sophisticated that can provide immense accuracy and/or guidance, yes, but a tool after all; not necessarily the last word to be said, and treating it like that is what I fear can occur, providing well-measured scenarios that can be divorced from reality.

In an era where more and more companies heavily bet their future (aka the next 5 years) into data, analytics and AI, as the holy grail of efficiency, knowledge and clarity that will then lead to smart decision making; the company that almost everyone look upon, one at the forefront not only of this type of approach, but as well in creating the technology to power it, reminds us that just technology is not enough.

“You do need the data, but then you need to check that data with your intuition and your instincts.”

No matter how many metrics can be put in place, it’s not always going to be enough, because we cannot and we should not forget or force ourselves to omit the human factor, which by nature is erratic and ever-changing, unpredictable and very hard to measure.

Source: The brilliant business lesson behind the emails Jeff Bezos sends to his Amazon executives with a single ‘?’


This article is part of my #100DayProject #100DaysofWriting — Day 35 of 100

Joseph Emmi

Written by

Technology + Business + Design + Entrepreneurship

The Bridge

A crossroad between Technology, Business and Design

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