Friday, September 10, 2010

Quotes by John Tukey

This is my new personal motto.

The greatest value of a picture is when it forces us to notice what we never expected to see.
- John W. Tukey. Exploratory Data Analysis. 1977.

Hat tip to Flowing Data

And another great one to remember

Far better an approximate answer to the right question, which is often vague, than an exact answer to the wrong question, which can always be made precise.
- John Tukey

Hat tip to Flowing Data

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Using capitalism, for good

Blog post by Seth Godin

Part 1: The bottom is important.
Almost a third of the world's population earns $2.50 or less a day. The enormity of this disparity takes my breath away, but there's an interesting flip side to it: That's a market of more than five billion dollars a day. Add the next segment ($5 a day) and it's easy to see that every single day, the poorest people in the world spend more than ten billion dollars to live their lives.

Part 2: The bottom is an opportunity (for both buyer or seller).

Part 3: It's not as easy as it looks
So you see the paradox. A new product and approach and innovation could dramatically improve the life and income of a billion people, but those people have been conditioned to ignore the very tools that are a reflex of marketers that might sell it to them. Fear of loss is greater than fear of gain. Advertising is inefficient and ineffective. And the worldview of the shopper is that they're not a shopper. They're in search of refills.
The answer, it turns out, is in connecting and leading Tribes. It lies in engaging directly and experientially with individuals, not getting distribution in front of markets. Figure out how to use direct selling in just one village, and then do it in ten, and then in a hundred. The broad, mass market approach of a Western marketer is foolish because there is no mass market in places where villages are the market.

Part 4: The (eventual) power of the early adopter
Just because it is going to take longer than it should doesn't mean we should walk away. There are big opportunities here, for all of us. It's going to take some time, but it's worth it.

Seth Godin's blog post relates to the mission of the Acumen Fund, "Investing in businesses to end global poverty"

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Simplicity is highly overrated

(in mass-market consumer goods)

Blog post by Don Norman

If a company spent more money to design and build an appliance that worked so well, so automatically, that all it needed was an on-off switch, people would reject it. “This simple looking thing costs more?” They would complain. “What is that company thinking of? I’ll buy the cheaper one with all those extra features – after all, it’s better, right? And I save money.”

Logic and reason, I have to keep explaining, are wonderful virtues, but they are irrelevant in describing human behavior. Trying to prove a point through intelligent, reasonable argumentation is what I call the “engineer’s fallacy.” (Also, the economist’s fallacy.”)  We have to design for the way people really behave [emphasis added], not as engineers or economists would prefer them to behave.