Five data lies that need to die … now streaming on Netflix

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Let’s rewind the clock 25 years. Back then, the trendy company was Walmart and the trendy topic was supply chain management. You couldn’t throw a rock in the business section of the Wall Street Journal without hitting a journalist waxing philosophical about how the company was “reinventing retail” through ruthless supply chain efficiency. But it didn’t take long before those articles turned negative. By the early 2000s, Walmart was “destroying Main Street” and bullying suppliers.

Leaders who followed the pundits’ whipsawing advice – that supply chain would solve all their problems, or that ruthless supply chain management led to unsustainable relationships – largely wasted time and money. What could your small business take from Walmart’s strategy? Probably very little, but it made for a good story.

Trendy companies and fashionable opinions come and go, but the pattern remains the same: The articles are meant to tell good stories to drive increased readership. They rarely provide sound and actionable advice.

“Netflix” is simply the latest trendy company and “data” is simply the latest fashionable topic. The innumerable stories about the transformative power of the Netflix algorithm may make for good reading, but they aren’t necessarily good advice about how to use data.

Let’s have a look at the recent punditry and unmask the storytelling masquerading as advice.

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