The hardest part of being a data scientist is trying to control the mania at the beginning of a project. Many of these projects start when a higher-up announces that we have an important business question and we need data to arrive at an answer. That proclamation is like yelling “fire” in a crowded movie theater. Anyone with data starts the frantic dash to collect, format, and distribute it.
I like what the flight attendants do. At the beginning of every flight, they take you through the plan. They point out the exits and describe an orderly evacuation. That’s what a good data scientist will do as well:
“Our initial analysis has produced four hypotheses — two in the front, two in the rear. If you have data, please follow the lights to the nearest hypothesis. We will come to a conclusion once all the evidence have safely exited their silos.”
Jerry Overton is head of advanced analytics research in CSC’s ResearchNetwork and founder of CSC’s FutureTense competency, which includes the Predictive Modeling Research Group, Advanced Analytics Lab and Predictive Modeling School. Connect with him on Twitter.