Rather than adding something new, try subtracting

Rather than adding something new, try subtracting

I read recently that sociological research suggests, when presented with a problem, humans default to "adding" something to address the problem, rather than subtracting. And of course, this got me to thinking about how this happens in data management all the time.

Some examples:

  1. When faced with a particular challenge for collecting data, we tend to think adding new technology will improve things rather than considering whether we should change the way we are collecting it. For example, collecting group event registration on line can be very tricky. Rather than adding technology to manage group registration, maybe it's better to manage them manually. For example, "subtract" the online form from the website and take group registrations by phone. Or provide a PDF form to fill in and then email.
  2. When trying to improve marketing effectiveness, marketers will add more names to the list they are marketing to (shotgun approach) in hopes that a larger net will catch more fish (if I may mix metaphors). But smart marketers know that a smaller list focused on those who have already shown a propensity to buy (previous buying data) is typically much more effective.

These are just two simple examples of where we tend to add rather than subtract when faced with a challenge. So next time you're presented with a data management dilemma, ask yourself "What can I take away that would address this issue?"

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