Ignorance is Bliss…

…AND if used correctly can lead to astonishing breakthroughs.  One of the best things about being a statistician playing in other people’s sandboxes is that you get to ask all sorts of ignorant questions without getting dinged for it.  More often than not your ignorance will lead you to ask THE question that changes everything.  And more often than not that question will begin with “why?”

The other day a friend asked if I could do some simple stats around temporary worker hours.  I am a BIG fan of simple as long as it isn’t a euphemism for “boring,” “useless,” or “uninformative.”  So I asked what she had in mind.  “Maybe the mean, or the median if it’s more appropriate.”  I offered to throw in the MODE for good measure.  It didn’t take much to convince her to set her sights a little higher.  Summary statistics are for the birds (and Executives.)  A couple of ignorant “why” questions revealed what she really wanted to know.  The analysis was the easy part.

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