June 2018 IT BP Forum - Build More Solid Business Cases and Hold People To Account.

Key Observations - Debatable data

Gilbert Scott Associates, James O'Driscoll

Debatable Data

Build More Solid Business Cases and Hold People To Account

Tony Koutsoumbos (https://www.linkedin.com/in/tkoutsoumbos/), the founder of the Great Debaters Club (http://www.debate-training.co.uk), the UK's only debate club and training programme for adults kindly completed the masterclass track and after a few technical issues (thank you George Kerby for resolving them! - https://www.linkedin.com/in/george-kerby-022653134/) kicked off his talk around debatable data.
This workshop was focused on how we use data to test conclusions for the presence of bias and how delegates can make better use of data when justifying their decisions and advice to others. Such a large topic could not be covered in a 50-minute session, so instead the delegates were introduced to the subject with an overview of the difference between data vs.  evidence, some real-life examples of misleading data and an explanation of the building blocks of an argument. The building blocks of an argument are: 
  • Conclusion – what I want the audience to believe
  • Data – that supports my conclusion
  • Analysis – why data is proof of my conclusion

 During the discussion, these building blocks were again backed up with real life examples. Finally, we did an exercise of  “Spot the Fallacy”.  This was used to help delegates have the ability to recognise a fallacy in a real-life argument, by being presented with numerous examples and asking them to identify the relevant fallacy using the cheat sheets issued. Useful for spotting erroneous claims for business benefits or excuses for poor performance!

As I’m sure all IT BRMs/IT BPs will recognise, the use of data to help make arguments is incredibly useful as part of a wider influencing strategy, especially when dealing with your two key personality types as discussed in the Winter 2017 forum.   To recap these types are:
  • Pragmatists (Sensing/Thinking e.g. IT colleague)
  • Theoretical (Intuition/Thinking e.g. CxO)
However, from an observer perspective I didn’t feel we gave this subject the justice it deserved in this workshop due to a lack of time.  The delegates did have a clear, high level overview from Tony and good real life examples to start the process of linking evidence, analysis and conclusions.  However, I would urge IT BRMs/IT BPs to investigate further as it is clearly a subject that can be very useful in both making your own decisions and influencing others. 
If you would like to have access to the information presented in the Forum, please contact us.

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