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The Art of Project Management by Scott Berkun

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8.3. Information is a flashlight

Most people educated in the Western world are taught to trust numbers. We find it easier to work with numbers and make comparisons with them than with abstract feelings or ideas. Decision and utility theory, mentioned briefly earlier, depends on this notion by claiming that we make better decisions if we can convert our desires and the probabilities of choices into numbers and make calculations based on them. Despite my earlier criticism of these theories, sometimes forcing ourselves to put numerical values on things can help us define our true opinions and make decisions on them.

But decisions aside, we commonly like to see evidence for claims in numeric form. There is a difference in usefulness and believability in someone saying "Our search engine is 12% slower on 3-word queries" than "The system is slow." Numerical data gives a kind of precision that human language cannot. More so, numerical data is often demanded by people to support claims that they make. The statement "The system is slow" begs the question "How do you know this?" The lack of some kind of study or research into the answer makes the claim difficult to trust, or dependent solely on the opinion and judgment of the person saying it. Sometimes, a specific piece of information answers an important question and resolves a decision much faster than possible otherwise.

8.3.1. Data does not make decisions

The first misconception about information is that it rarely makes a decision ...

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