How often do we (as individuals, communities, organizations) make big decisions based on assumptions that may be very flawed?
What if using “big data” could uncover the truth and we could start on common ground?
Have you heard the term “big data” being thrown around lately? It may be something we will all hear a lot more about as groups and individuals try to use technology to make better decisions in the future. The possibilities are astounding and we hope to take you on a little journey into that world today on Ever Widening Circles.
Essentially, “big data” is a term used to describe the vast amounts of information now digitally available. Sounds boring I know, but the real magic is in the amazing software being used to analyze all the information. The software and applications seem to be getting more amazing every day, revealing patterns of behavior, emerging trends, and interactions that were once invisible because of their sheer complexity and volume.
And why should we average folk care?
Because if we use big data analysis to reveal what’s actually happening in any given situation, we can all start on common ground to come up with solutions. We still might not agree on the best course of action to take, but at least if we begin every effort with correct information from irrefutable data, we won’t be starting miles apart because of faulty assumptions.
Individuals and communities of thought-leaders who are applying themselves to almost any endeavor can become “multipliers” of each other’s perspective, instead of starting as adversaries.
I’m terrifically excited about this because, as you may know, my only agenda for the website here at Ever Widening Circles is to change the negative dialogue about our world. The possibilities here are mind-boggling. Just think about all the strife we start with when the facts are fuzzy.
“We will rarely find brilliant solutions together, if our starting point already has us miles apart.” – Dr. Lynda
This is true no matter how large or small the problem.
Have you ever been to a school board or town council meeting and seen folks argue for hours over buying some new curtains for the library, or giving the local dog catcher a fifty cent raise? Often, the discord starts with faulty assumptions from the outset.
What about the problems that plague almost every community in the world: things like public health, drug abuse, and poverty? How often do we have the opportunity to dig into those problems with all the “big picture” data that we need?
Seems to me that if we could start at problem-solving without the burden of wildly diverse assumptions, we might all be able to keep it civil, collaborate more easily and do something human beings are remarkably good at: be ingenious!
We’ll start today’s eye opening article with a TED Talk by a gentleman who has come up with a solution to the problem of litter around the world. He uses all the best aspects of big data and common sense, and then our impulse to share becomes the multiplier.
Let’s let Jeff Kirschner point us to the way of the future.
Thanks to the advent of big data, Jeff is able to appeal to the good intentions of well-known brands, municipalities, and individuals to solve a problem without the confrontational arguments over “the facts”. His project gives all three groups the opportunity to be their best selves from the outset.
This is a model of problem-solving that can change the world.
Stay tuned to a future article about Litterati in October where I interview Jeff and we dive much deeper.
Let’s let the value of big data inspire us even more!
Here’s a link to one of our articles with another TED Talk that will put a spring in your step for a week. Take a look:
Now lastly, I’d like to lay down a fun challenge for us all:
In doing the research for this article, I came across a fabulous little TED Talk that turned my own assumptions up-side-down and reminded me to consider them more carefully before acting on them in the future. It turns out, research proves we are all pretty bad at estimating the magnitude of problems and the status quo.
Our last short video appears to be about boring statistics like math literacy, but hang in there for a few minutes and then it gets very funny and very interesting! I suspect we are all at least as prone to telling ourselves stories, as the people of Exeter England.
Have a look at this wonderful bit of insight, which explains those “faulty assumptions” I mentioned at the beginning of this article:
Hmmm? Perception and reality are often pretty far apart! Maybe most of us have assumptions that we are mistaking for facts.
What does this say about all our biases when we dive into problem-solving in our communities? What does this say about how business leaders and politicians go into problem-solving?
I suspect we can use something like big data to define our starting points in the future and we will have a lot more success in our collaborations. We can only hope!
Stay open, curious and optimistic!
~ Dr. Lynda