The Data Mirage by Ruben Ugarte
Ruben Ugarte has had enough, that much is clear. Like many business professionals following the trend of writing a motivational book, he’s not interested in waxing poetic on so-called ‘individualistic’ approaches to the crux of what makes a business endure, nor in premeditated ideas of a business’s trajectory over the next five years. With the book The Data Mirage: Why Companies Fail to Actually Use Their Data, he basically says it all from the get-go. “Every great story has a beginning and, for companies that are striving to be data driven, the beginning can feel like a failure,” he writes in the first chapter.
“Every single one of my clients tells me that that they would like to go from nothing to advance as quickly as possible. They want to skip the beginning and jump to the end of the story…These issues manifest when your team tells you that they don’t trust the data or when they out-right reject a number because ‘it can’t be right’.” A businesses’ success, Ugarte states, is tied to adequate reading of its data analytics, and successful interpretations of said analytics rest less on something opaque and more on something intellectually transient. Attitude.
Indeed, Ugarte says, attitude is the saving grace for all long-lasting and long-succeeding companies and corporations that remain number one in their respective fields. But contrary to popular opinion, it isn’t about exchanging one set of observations and evaluations for another. Ugarte’s argument is that objectivity, and a lack of bias, are crucial elements to a successful outlook at all times. Each chapter, laden with extensive, piece-by-piece deconstructions of typical mistakes and miscalculations made by some of the biggest players in the game, all wind up restating the same conclusion.
Most failures or complications in business are avoidable as long as the word ‘impossible’ never enters your vocabulary. Forget ‘it can’t be right’, Ruben Ugarte says in a nutshell. ‘It can’t be right’ are words representative of subjectivity, and subjectivity proves the antithesis of the basic tenets of business. Yet Ugarte isn’t advocating throwing out the baby with the bathwater, either. Rather, he writes, when it comes to what can create a bias, it’s all about investigating said roots with decidedly un-anecdotal evidence. “…insights without action are just mental entertainment. Insights by themselves don’t turn themselves into top-line or bottom-line growth.” He adds, “They don’t help you reduce costs or retain your best talent. You need to do something about these insights. You need to take action…”
After decades of motivational books lining the shelves from the so-called ‘experts’ in various dealings and business relations, it’s nice to see people like Ugarte – genuine entrepreneurs with the factual experience to back themselves up – providing accessible and informative literary guidance to those both with and without stereotypical heads for business. Make no mistake, this is no Art of the Deal or How to Think Big and Kick A**. Ugarte is blunt, but never for show. Follow his advice, and you just might find yourself in the best possible position on day one.