Svyatoslav Biryulin
Shine and poverty of quantitative data
We need imagination rather than numbers
What a company works on a new strategy, its leadership often insist that all the decisions must be made basing on "firm quantitative data". Maybe that's why, according to Harvard Business Review, up to 70% of strategies fail.

The weakness of quantitative data is that it tells us stories about past and present, but not about the future. Future doesn't exist, and quantitative data can't help us create it. The only way to create the future is to imagine it, for which task we need foresight workshops and brainstorm games rather than Microsoft Excel sheets.

Some people try to "predict" the future using data from the past by looking for "trends". But when we study them we ordinary imply that the development goes linearly, but it rarely does. And even if we look at a non-linear curve from the past we can't be sure that it will follow the same route in the future. The world is unpredictable.

Moreover, the excessive addiction to quantitative data may distract us from the main point – the future doesn't exist, and there is no way to predict it, but there is a way to create it, which is more important. And we don't need data to solve this task, we rather need vivid imagination and ability to "connect the dots", that is to see not obvious connections between things and notions.

Svyatoslav Biryulin

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