Data Pointillism: Are You Too Close To Your Customer Data?

I hate when I go to museums where other patrons crowd too close to the paintings. Don’t they know that you sometimes need a little distance to really see the art? Or that they are preventing others from viewing the painting from an appropriate distance? Very annoying.

This is especially true for art created using pointillism. I can stare at a pointillist piece for 20 minutes, easy. I can appreciate the technique—the way one group of simple dots can create a totally different dimensional feel than another equally labor-intensive group of dots.

Same with customer data. You may have collected thousands of data points. You savor them for a time (I know I do!), and that’s fine. But then it’s time to step back, and take it all in…unless something blocks you. It may even be that you have colleagues who are so hung up on examining the little dots up close, that you get stuck too.

Be bold. Break away from the crowd. Step back.

Read a book, and then come back to the data. Or take a walk. View a webinar on an unrelated topic. Read a favorite magazine. Anything to break the trance.

Those of us who spend a lot of time analyzing data know that too much time is wasted by being hung up on the small points. Then we risk running out of time for the creative thinking necessary to distill out the big “so what” findings.

With pointillism, the mind blends individual paint dots into a single image. With market research data, we have to let the data “dots” become our masterpiece of synthesis.

Are you too close to your data? So close that all you see is the thousands of little data points? What can you do to get the distance you need to really see the whole picture?

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  1. Ed Erickson
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  2. Kathryn Korostoff Kathryn
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