Fascinating column in @thetimes on the use of data in Timpsons by @JamesTCobbler
Reflecting on this and some of the replies...
Timpson's can do this in part because their business model is simple. There is little need to use data for "discovery", i.e., understanding the underlying system. Other companies are not so fortunate.
This leads back to the question that all analytic projects should start with - "What are you actually trying to do/understand?"
And it's amazing how often that is an afterthought compared to just implementing vast and complex solutions on the recommendation of a consultant.
In some cases, you might need complex data infrastructure. I suspect Microsoft and Amazon would find it hard to operate without one. But that doesn't make it the right choice for everyone. Because they come with costs and not just financial ones.
Where the demands of the system outstrip the capacity of the people expected to interact with it, you get problems. Where the technology assumes responsibilities that should rightly lie with individuals, you get problems.
Timpson's have found a model which doesn't burden their staff and doesn't relieve them of responsibility. Some other companies have systems which do burden their staff, but also allow the staff to evade responsibility if things go wrong.
And that's through ignorance of the wider system, which includes individuals and how they interact with the business (both customers and staff). Analytics can be used to support or it can be used to undermine. Choose carefully.
I am reminded of one of my favourite passages:

"They constantly try to escape
From the darkness outside and within
By dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good.
But the man that is will shadow
The man that pretends to be."

TS Eliot, The Rock
Usually I think of it in the context of the imposition of systems onto society under, e.g., socialism.

But here it makes me think of trusting staff to be "good" rather than inflicting a data platform and complex processes on them.

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More from @ajwillshire

30 Apr
This is an interesting question. Instinctively I want to stand upright and declare that politics is no place for scoundrels and rogues (stop laughing at the back). But it isn't as easy as that...
For example, I reckon that if I lent Jeremy Corbyn £20 I would be more likely to get it back than from Boris. If I needed a politician who stuck to his principles doggedly then Corbyn is a great shout. But that's not necessarily what I want.
Would I prefer a PM who inflicted billions of bounds of damage to the country's economy but would never pocket £20k himself (or herself)? Would I prefer someone who was openly communist or fascist but an honest one to a crook who wouldn't wreck the country? No.
Read 7 tweets
29 Apr
I have a theory about the PM's resilience in the polls despite current "difficulties"...

An awful lot of voters like him personally. They don't kid themselves about his honesty. They've known his flaws for some time but don't care. They voted for him despite those flaws. 1/n
They're also aware that many other people detest him and are willing to use any available method to depose him, just as they tried to use any available method to prevent Brexit from happening. 2/n
But there is really only one way to depose a populist/popular politician - the ballot box. It worked with Trump in a way that impeachment simply wouldn't have. Voters like being the ones to choose their leaders. 3/n
Read 7 tweets

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