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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Databaazi

Two days back, I heard a fancy term which could qualify for a place in management lingo. The word was blurted by my boss on a telephonic outburst to his boss. The fancy term is “databaazi”. What is this databaazi? It means excessive obsession with collection of data, data, and more data. I think databaazi is something very relevant today. In many organizations it is a menace that’s worshipped like God and is responsible for lot of inefficiency as well as ineffectiveness.

Why this databaazi is flourishing so much these days? Perhaps because people, including learned people, are confused about two things. First, the difference between data, information, and knowledge. Second, the fact that there can never be the perfect data to make a perfect decision.

Coming to the first confusion, very few people understand that accumulation of data alone is meaningless unless enough relevant information is derived from it and then converted into knowledge. Accumulation of data alone will not do any good. It’s useless. From my experience I can say that 80% of the data collected is either useless or trivial. On rigourous analysis only 20% has the capacity to give some relevant information that can be converted to knowledge. But the proponents of databaazi think that if you can collect enough data then you can make perfect decisions. And no surprises that in the name of data collection the decision gets delayed till eternity and even when the decision is taken after collection of so called revered data, the results disappoint.

Second confusion is that people feel that they must wait for the perfect data to arrive to make that perfect decision. Nothing is far from reality. All the data, information, knowledge can aid a decision but they will never be the only requirement in decision making. Also, in the fluid world of business, waiting for data and information in entirety to take a decision is foolhardy. Just imagine a group of 10 army men in middle of battle field. They cannot be expected to wait for all the data and information to come before they can make a perfect attack on enemy which is rapidly advancing towards them. Can they? Business is no different. What is more important is a good decision (not perfect decision) at the right time rather than a perfect decision when it’s already too late.

Perhaps the root cause of all these organizational evils is self explanatory in the wisdom given by Albert Einstein long back when he said, “a perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem”. Yes, this is the problem with many organizations. They focus too much on means and too little on aim and in turn get totally confused about the aim itself. No wonder that often this leads to aimless wandering at high cost and time.

And if the fans of databaazi are sitting on the top of corporate hierarchy then it is tough luck indeed. You can’t even raise your voice. You have to bear all this nonsense silently.

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