I want you to keep one thing in mind this year, and base all your actions on this one truth.
Data is King*
*But not all data is created equal
Google is the leading search engine because they have and return the best data to their users.
Successful people seek out the best data and take action based on what the data says.
The marketers generating the most leads and sales are doing so because they have the best data on what works and doesn't work.
Without quality actionable data, you are never going to drive meaningful change in your life and business. In 2015, the data driven approach is the only sure fire way to predictable success, and any other way means you are leaving your results to luck and chance.
How do you get the best data?
You can get data in multiple ways. 3rd party data comes from outside sources. You usually know very little context about the data except for the fact that it's presented to you. The exact collection methods are usually a black box. Additionally," 3rd party data is easy to get and readily available. So although you can make decisions based on this data, you will not always get the best results. It gives you a general overview and a better starting point for the framework I will share with you in a bit.
Next, there's 2nd party data. Think of this as more selective data that you've partnered up with someone to access. For example, data you get from a private mastermind can be seen as second party data. It's someone else's first party data that you can benefit from. There's less of it available than 3rd party data and usually harder or more expensive to get, but it's also the next best thing to first party data.
The absolute best data you can get is the one you observe and generate for yourself. This is what I call first party data, it's highly relevant and directly applicable to your exact needs. Your current and future life experiences are all first party data. With proper tracking and analysis, you can leverage this data in powerful ways.
The simple 4 step data-driven decision framework
- Figure out the result or solution you are trying to get.
- Generate a hypothesis based on the data you have from 1st, 2nd, and 3rd parties. A hypothesis is an educated guess or idea that will lead you closer to what you are seeking in step 1. It may take more than one hypothesis to get to your answer, but it's best to test one at a time. Also, the more 1st and 2nd party data you have, the higher quality your hypothesis will be, and the faster you will progress towards your solution. If you have no 1st or 2nd party data, find and use 3rd party data.
Two big mistakes people make are not using any data for the hypothesis, and assuming the hypothesis is always true.
The likelihood that someone out there has done what you are trying to do is pretty high, so there's no need to reinvent the wheel. Building off previous data is an accelerator that will save you headaches and time if used correctly.
- No matter how knowledgeable or experienced you are, never make the mistake of blindly assuming your hypothesis is correct and needs no further testing or refinement. The world is constantly changing, and the only way to keep ahead of the pack is to refine and test constantly. Data gets old, stale, and less actionable over time.
Test your hypothesis to verify correctness. If the results don't match your hypothesis, you have two options: Refine and change your hypothesis to align with the outcome and test again, or select a completely new hypothesis for more testing. I find that rapidly testing a set of hypotheses before refining is more effective, because it gives you a wider set of knowledge to work with before diving deep into the refinement process.
- . Knowing something valuable is cool, but you know what's cooler? Implementing and living life based on this knowledge. The whole idea behind this process is to generate quality first party data to guide your decisions.
You can see how doing this effectively creates a compounding effect. Your goal is to understand there are 3 types of data for basing your decisions on. With that in mind, you want to rapidly accumulate and implement the quality knowledge mined from your first party data, but this only comes from running your own experiments.
Secondly, realize that although you can do this alone, you will move faster by building off other people's work and experience. Seek out 2nd party data first, because it's more aligned with your needs and augment it with 3rd party data as needed.
Finally, keep feeding everything you gain back into this system to continually stay relevant. Over time you will find that the whole process gets faster and more efficient because the quality, breadth and depth of your inputs (data) keeps improving.
You now have a better understanding of how to make data-driven decisions to power through your New Year's Goals and achieve everything you set out to do in 2015 and beyond.