Home Business Intelligence Beware the Poisonous Positivity of Knowledge: Why Context Issues

Beware the Poisonous Positivity of Knowledge: Why Context Issues

Beware the Poisonous Positivity of Knowledge: Why Context Issues


Poisonous positivity? That appears a bit harsh when speaking about information, particularly given that almost all trendy companies aspire to be data-driven in each technique and execution. Certainly, during the last decade or two, information has turn into nearly universally thought to be a key company asset and a vital enter to high quality decision-making. 

That stated, the rising significance of knowledge as an asset has resulted in vital overheads being required in its safety. Whether or not we’re speaking about safety, regulatory obligations, or just information integrity, it’s clear that there are many dangers and concern related to information.

In latest occasions the idea of knowledge as a legal responsibility has additionally raised its head, albeit often by way of its strategic worth, and what may occur if it was compromised not directly. The prevailing analogy right here adjustments from “information is the brand new oil” to “information is like uranium,” each highly effective and harmful. Savvy information practitioners now realise that governance, whereas by no means horny, has taken on a brand new and heightened significance. 

What efficient information practitioners know: context issues


But that’s not fairly what we’re speaking about right here. For me, the thought of poisonous positivity being utilized to information takes two types: context and presentation. Likewise, the broader idea of poisonous positivity is a social assemble that appeals to widespread tradition and the zeitgeist of in the present day—why wouldn’t it pertain to information? 

Considering firstly by way of context, it’s simple to see what number of information practitioners turn into enamoured with their analyses and experiences, and are blinded to extra mundane concerns like relevance and affect. One of these poisonous positivity stems from the concept information is the only real (goal) reality and is subsequently unassailable. Overconfidence in your information and algorithms breeds an unwarranted certainty across the insights and might yield fatally flawed choices.

The answer to this drawback is to take care of a wholesome scepticism in the direction of prima facie solutions and to use widespread sense and expertise in equal measure. In a flashback to my administration consulting days, information is used to show or disprove the speculation, not the opposite approach round. 

An AI wake-up name: at all times query the trail of least resistance. 


In latest months although, a extra insidious risk to decision-making integrity has emerged, within the type of Generative AI options, and extra particularly their consumer interfaces. The challenges with AI are each many and well-identified, and embody an absence explainability, poor transparency, and variable information high quality to call a couple of. Much less clearly, a “positivity” drawback now presents itself after we take into account the shape (or presentation) of AI’s responses—they’re delivered in such a prescriptive and authoritative method, as to silence any debate on their worth or correctness.

Right here is the place the foibles of the know-how have a tendency in the direction of optimistic toxicity: engaging, simple solutions which might be offered as compelling and “proper” solutions are the straightforward choice for time-poor analysts or passive perception shoppers. This drawback is far more durable to resolve, primarily as a result of Generative AI has such broad applicability, with no clear signature of its utilization.

Likewise, with none approach of realizing if solutions are proper or improper, customers will naturally lean in the direction of the trail of least resistance. Sadly, as soon as headed down this path, it is vitally exhausting for them to show again. 

To get essentially the most worth out of your information, always remember the basics.  


The assertions above aren’t meant to query the worth of knowledge, or data-driven decision-making for that matter. The suitable information, thoughtfully utilized, can illuminate a call with new prospects. Slightly, it’s to spotlight one of many fundamentals of analytical follow which has at all times existed: perceive your enterprise first, and solely then search related and regarded insights.  

Your enterprise doesn’t exist to “eat insights”; it exists to fulfill buyer wants whereas producing income. The duty of stewardship falls to the considerate information practitioner who understands how insights assist the creativity, productiveness, and tenacity required for enterprise success.

To paraphrase Pablo Picasso’s well-known quote from 1964, “Computer systems are ineffective, they will solely provide you with solutions.” The enlightened chief (and analyst) spends time asking “why” the analyses matter—they don’t cease at “what” the information says. Most frequently, this behaviour manifests itself in affirmation bias, the place leaders latch onto insights that merely reinforce what they wish to imagine. The continuing public debate surrounding local weather change is a traditional instance of this behaviour. 

Poisonous positivity comes within the type of the engaging soapbox spruiker standing on the nook, telling you they’ve all the gorgeous solutions (regardless of the query could also be). At Domo, we wish to encourage “information curiosity” inside our clients—and it’s by no means been extra vital. 



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