Two Out of Three

A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.” ― William Faulkner

Right on, and not only writers.   Observation and imagination are underrated in information work. A writer’s imagination and observational skills can be perfect raw material for an analyst, while focused technical experience may not help with understanding another person’s questions, or interpreting their analytics outcomes.

Observation, imagination, and experience all matter in analysis, but the origin of those skills is increasingly irrelevant, as tools become mainstream and simpler to use.

The perspective of creative disciplines may be closer to real-world questions than the perspective of technical professions in many areas, including human resources, reporting, social listening, and politics.

If we consider analysis the province of a purely technical community, and focus largely on technical aspects, I believe we’re missing out where it really matters: developing the the right questions and really understanding the resulting answers.    The combination of technical and creative modes of thought, working together to understand questions and interpret answers, is something that we can and should welcome.

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