Rob Estreitinho

🍣 Statistics is a knife that cuts on both sides

Published about 2 months ago • 1 min read

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Hi friend – Rob here.

Most brand strategy boils down to three axes:

  • Market truth
  • Human truth
  • Brand truth

(Cultural truth can be bundled into market or human.)

Which raises two interesting questions:

  1. What is truth?
  2. Can you have more than one?

My take: truth is highly contextual and yes multiple things can be true at once.

Nassim Taleb says:

“Statistics is a knife that cuts on both sides.”

By which he means you can use numbers to tell many types of narratives.

Have a big enough data set and you can prove that people both love and hate your product.

Or that having lizards as a pet is both a good and a bad idea.

The question then is, which version of the truth to you adopt?

You adopt the one that gives you the largest chances of a competitive advantage.

Which means data-driven approaches are mostly a performance.

Data is like a Rorschach test, we often see in it what we want to see.

The same data report can yield three wildly different interpretations.

The good news: this means we get to choose the version that feels most compelling.

We obsess so much with being right, we forget the point is to be less wrong than the other folks.

So your data doesn't need to confirm what you're saying, so long as it doesn't deny it either.

From there, you can shape the story how you see fit.


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Rob Estreitinho

Strategist, writer, co-conspirator

Founder, Salmon Labs. Publisher, Salmon Theory.

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