Experimental Mindset

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We have all at sometime done some sort of experiment, from maybe from a young age as to see which cry and actions resulted in the reward of milk to test driving cars to find which is best suited to your needs before you buy it. These are experiments that produced results from things we have tried and may not have thought about it as developing an Experimental Mindset. In this article I am concentrating on how this applies to data.

Here are my notes from my research into the topic.

The main areas for an Experimental Mindset are:

In order to constantly learn you need to be open to learning and develop your Growth Mindset. I have covered this in another blog so wont repeat here: Having the Right Digital Mindset: Business (Change, Agility and a Growth Mindset).

Having an Experimental Mindset is one of the key traits in being a Data Analyst or Data Scientist and it is not a new term. This has been around as long as the field of science and research has. These arena have developed methodologies that have been adopted and taken forward by many other areas such as business and computing that can be used for testing and evaluating.

At a high level this methodology can be shown as:

Observations –> Hypothesis –> Scientific Law

Overlaid with the areas for data this can be shown as:

Observations (Learning) –> Hypothesis (Testing) –> Scientific Law (Evaluating)

or as:

Observations (Data) –> Hypothesis (Product/Service) –> Scientific Law (Predictive Model)

Using this methodology, one of the more common types of Hypothesis Testing is A/B Testing. This sets out a framework for a simple controlled experiment against two versions (A and B) to look at the impact of changes to a thing or product. Some useful articles on A/B Testing are listed below that go into the details of it:

Udacity host a course by Google on A/B testing.

There are some risks to A/B Testing that should be considered when reviewing the results:

  • Sampling Bias
  • Study Population
  • Target Population
  • Segmentation
  • World Time Zones
  • Target Population
  • Data/Privacy Laws

I will go further into the realms of A/B testing in a later blog post.

Further Reading

Data Storytelling

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Humans have been using the medium of storytelling since the begining, but only really recording it from the moment a wet painted hand went onto a cave wall. These days we read stories in books or access stories over the internet on our tablets and other devices.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

The main key to all of storytelling is data in one form or another. From 1 x wooly mammoth and 3 x hunters (thats 4 items of data) in a cave painting to the complexity of how many bits and bytes are in an online book.

For a good explanation on What is data?Cassie Kozyrkov, Head of Decision Intelligence,@ Google has written some great posts and videos on the subject.

So when we have data, we use stories to explain what it is telling us – hopefully not through 1000’s of powerpoint slides…….Make it Stop!!. What are you going to put in those slides that will keep the audience hooked and focused.

Stories are normall based around a simple concept of beginning, middle and end, however there is more to it that that if you want to tell a good story.

The first thing through before getting to the story is to make sure you understand what the data is telling you. If you don’t understand the data and your asked a question, will you be able to answer it or further illustrate your point. Keep in mind – EVALUATE – LEARN – PRACTICE. Then maybe practice some more until you are confident with what your about to talk about.

Decluttered and simple visuals help to tell the story and keep the audience focused on what you are telling them, rather than they spend the time trying to understand what all that text and facts are on the screen. Information is Beautiful is a site that shows some ways to display data visually in easy to understand ways by David McCandless. Here is his TED talk:

Stories normally follow a Heroes Journey which takes the plot line through a series of steps to keep the audience wanting more and to continue to read the rest or listen until the end. When storytelling about data, as similar construct can be used using the Heroes Journey:

SequenceHeroes Storytelling StepData Storytelling Step
1Status QuoWhats the current normal
2Call to AdvetureThe Question (What is being asked of the data)
3AssistanceWhat are the Sources
4DepatureTurn the data into something understandable
5TrailsData Analysis
6ApproachMethods used
7CrisisData Modelling / Wrangling
8TreasureThe Findings
9ResultResult
10ReturnPresentation
11New LifeNew normal
12ResolutionReview
13EndEnd or maybe a different question?
Data Storytelling using a Heroes Journey

There is a good explanation of the different styles of Heroes Journey on Wikipedia. the above table is change a bit. Heres a video that goes through a format:

Now we have a structure, how you tell the story is just as important. How can you pursuade the audience about the data and point of view that you are presenting?

There are, then, these three means of effecting persuasion. The man who is to be in command of them must, it is clear, be able (1) to reason logically, (2) to understand human character and goodness in their various forms, and (3) to understand the emotions–that is, to name them and describe them, to know their causes and the way in which they are excited.

Aristotle

Aristotle set out his Powers of Persuasion in four areas:

  • Ethos – Author/Speaker (Character, Credibility, Authority, Truthfulness)
  • Pathos – Howtopic effects you – connect and bridge the gap (Current emotional state, Target emotional state)
  • Logos – Why it effects you – story / proposal (Reasonablenss, Consistancy, Clarity)
  • Karios – Time and place

Ethos – ‘It is not true, as some writers assume in their treatises on rhetoric, that the personal goodness revealed by the speaker contributes nothing to his power of persuasion; on the contrary, his character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion he possesses.’

Pathos ‘persuasion is effected through the speech itself when we have proved a truth or an apparent truth by means of the persuasive arguments suitable to the case in question.’

Logos ‘persuasion may come through the hearers, when the speech stirs their emotions. Our judgements when we are pleased and friendly are not the same as when we are pained and hostile.’

Rhetoric, Aristotle

Karios is an Ancient Greek word meaning the right, critical, or opportune moment.

How we can use these areas is illustrated in this example:

When preparing for the Storytelling session its worth checking that you are not going to fall into the trap of the “echo chamber effect”.  From my post on the subject I have created the following term to help me remember – STACK

  • Step Back
  • Think
  • Absorb other views
  • Challenge your thinking
  • communicate your Knowledge

Storytelling is more trustworthy than just presenting data on its own. One to consider when you create your next PowerPoint Presentation.

Further Reading

Data Fellowship

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Data, it’s everywhere and there are thousands, millions, billions…… lets just say “lots” of data created evry second of the day, from articles and discussions on the internet, to texts and whats apps, to cars, to well anything with a chip in it really. It goes a huge way to ruling our lives and telling us how to live, from what to eat to the carbon footprint of the world. so when I was given an opportunity to undertake an apprenticeship in Data Analytics on a Data Fellowship Apprenticeship over the next 18 months. Of course Im going to jump at that!

A great way to check my understanding and knowledge on things and learn many new things and more importantly for me provide a qualification at Data Analyst Level 4 standard.

So what is the So What? At the moment the programme is starting, so not much to report back so far, however I have started to document some of my journey and bits in my GitHub repo and will use this and my blog to record my thoughts and learnings going forward. Watch this space as they say.

Geek Out as a Scout Leader – Rolling a NAT 20

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What a great time to volunteer as a leader for Scouting and for young people to be in the scouting movement. The partnerships that the Scouting Association have created with third parties to help deliver programmes is at a great level with so many opportunities for both leaders and scouts to learn new activities. Each of the partners provide information, resources and packs to help the delivery of the badges.

Just announced is the Scouts partnership with Dungeons and Dragons which takes me back to my teen years rolling for that Nat 20!. This and with the Raspberry Pi, Electronic and Hackathons is a geek out for me. Its great to pass on the skills and knowledge to the next generation.

Here are an example of some of the partnerships and badges

So how can you volunteer to help and join in?

The below is from https://www.scouts.org.uk/volunteer

Scouts is needed now more than ever. The pandemic has hit our young people hard – with two thirds saying is impacted on their mental health. Having people positive role models to guide the way, and give that extra bit of encouragement is so important in times like these. We help young people step up, speak and find their place in the world. We help them gain skills for life.

Three great reasons to volunteer: 

  • You’ll share your skills and experience with young people, while developing yourself
  • You’ll have fun and meet new people in your area
  • You’ll inspire a generation (and they’ll never forget it)

 What to expect:

  • A warm welcome
  • Flexibility to get involved in a way that works for you
  • Easy access to training and resources online
  • Plenty of support and a great team

Whether you join us to directly support young people, or behind the scenes, as a volunteer manager, treasurer or fundraiser, we’ll match you with a role that suits the skills you have to share and those you’d like to gain.

No two weeks are the same, but the impact you make is always great.

You can start your journey here https://www.scouts.org.uk/groups/

Journaling my Daily Musings

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I am now nearing the completion of another Personal Journal (Number 30). I was at number 13 when I last wrote about my journalling (No Batteries Required: My Personal Journal) and I am still going strong on writing daily.

My normal journal of choice is a Moleskine Plain Pocket Notebook and all of my journals have followed this type so far. I have found them to be robust enough for my needs and use.

My journal normally has a mix between a Journal and a Scrapbook with inserts/stick in’s of tickets, pictures etc where I think its journal worthy. Journal worthy is mainly things that will help anyone reading the journal to get a feeling what we did and as reminders to us.

“The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.”

― Chuck Palahniuk

Although in recent times the amount of inserts has reduced with the stay at home messages.

My pen is normally a pilot V7 Hi-Techpoint which I find flows well over the pages in the journals. I have tried other pens and inks (fountain, ball point, etc) and found these to be the best.

Why do I keep a personal journal:

  • Daily routine of writing – keeps my mind fresh in writing skills
  • Keeping my writing skills up in an age of keyboards and touchscreens
  • Memories so the family can reflect on events
  • Keeping notes and remembering events
  • Not everything you do has to be online
  • My journal doesn’t need a battery
  • My pen doesn’t need to be cabled or wifi’d to print with it
  • My journal doesn’t crack when I drop it (although it can get wet)

Downsides of keeping a journal:

  • No Delete Key – just cross out a word/sentence
  • Physical Storage of journals rather than virtual

So what does a collection of 30 Journals(2007-2021) look like………

Two reused large shoeboxes full containing around 13 years of journaling ove 4,888 pages.

I would encourage anyone to start journalling – A great view of what you have achieved during a lifetime.

2020 – The Age of Ambiguity

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There has been a lot of change in the world and the way that we work is changing and won’t necessarily be the same going forward. With the changes in our lifestyles and work our Mindset is also changing to cope with everything we have to deal with.

I have written before about mindset and how to look at change “Having the Right Digital Mindset“. Going into 2021 its time to revisit these areas and look at how the world today have changed these.

In my blog I said – The Digital Era is enabling “A Growth Mindset in the Age of Abundance”. This is still true, however its more that just a Digital Era. The past 10 or so months has helped to show how we can deal with change on a daily basis and make adjustments. Its more the era of dealing with Daily Ambugity and Change. That said I still believe that going forward my statement holds true.

In my previous post “Having the Right Digital Mindset: Business (Change, Agility and a Growth Mindset)“, I cover the areas of Change, Agility and Growth Mindsets from a Business point of view. The world has had one of the most poinent lessons in dealing with ambiguity in modern times from everything that has happened from a pandemic point of view and the change and turmoil that it has caused. This has meant that everyone has had to deal with the same messages and ambiguity at the same time and factor in our own personal circumstances as well.

Learning to understand and cope with change yourself and your own personal circumstances helps you grow and in work enables any business/organisational changes that are happening. This can also be helped by also learning to work with and deal with ambiguity and help us to cope with the unknown, and act with out knowing what the overall looks like, whilst also breaking our habits to form new ones that allow us to accept and work with change.

I will end by saying that we have all been through a lot. Everyone has had different and similar experiences and its okay not to be okay. Talking to someone helps. It doesnt have to be anyone you know and there are some great services in the world that can help you. Please talk to someone.

Too Much Reliance on SatNav and online maps?

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Knock on the door from a person with a delivery said “Took ages to find your house, is your postcode correct?”. Not quite what I expected to hear. Having lived in the house for a number years and the post office delivering to my house with the same postcode I have had since moving in nothing has changed on my side.

So what’s happened. After some simple checks it appears Google Maps have somehow shifted my postcode over a few roads. That does explain a lot as to why some people have found it hard to find my location in the past such as taxi drivers, takeaways and delivery drivers etc.

I have raised a case on Google Maps to have this corrected

It does raise the question though about how reliant we are becoming on technology to find our way and give locations. Following a map on your phones and devices and not refering back to a map or even looking at the street names (Are you on the right road!).

How much trust do you put into your device and gps to advise your location? There are some great and fairly accurate (GPS dependant) tools/apps such as What 3 Words to find a location, but when relying on a postcode, how much trust do you put in it? For me a SatNav or Online Map will get you to the general location. Now you need to use some detective work to find the place your meant to be.

When finding places there is nothing like carrying map. I still have and use an A-Z Street Map when going to some new places and an OS Map. A road atlas in the car to help plan my route and gain my sense of direction for where I am about to travel to (when not in lockdown of course).

I teach navigation as part of my Scouting and Bushcraft activities in my spare time and always start with the basics of maps and compasses. These navigation methods are very relevant and needed, however the reliance on technology to find a way is still the instinctive urge. Using devices to find your way on an online mapping tool will only be as good as your signal and battery life. Saying that, it is always useful to help with traffic information and other things that could delay your journey. As long as someone with a hand cart full of mobiles isnt ruining your journey.

Online maps do have a place and are useful. Backing that up with a paper based map is always a good option. You may find places you didnt know existed locally!

Map Camp 2020

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Recently I attended Map Camp for my first time, which this year was being run online due to the pandemic. Around 1600 participants had signed up to Map Camp due to it being online.

If you are not familiar with Map Camp, its an event (series of events) and workshops/talks around mapping techniques that are being used in businesses and organisations.

The two main frameworks that were discussed on the sessions I attended were Wardley Maps and Cynefin.

There were a number of sessions held across the day that consisted of 3 presentations 15 mins each and a Q&A after each presentation. The format worked very well and kept the interest of the audience well.

Some key comments stuck with me from the sessions I have watched so far:

  • “Wardley maps are useful because they are broadly right but precisely wrong” – @MrsDHW
  • “The key is not the map but the sense making” – Kim Ballestrin
  • “Maps give us permission to ask questions” – Kim Ballestrin

The sessions covered were:

  • It’s Not the Map, It’s the Mapping Activity
    Danielle H-Wilson, Kim Ballestrin, Mark Craddock
  • Cybersecurity: Why Context is your Crown Jewels
    Petra Vukmirovic, Dinis Cruz, Sarah Clarke
  • Can Maps Do Good?
    Matthew Adams, Andra Sonea, Liz Keogh
  • Why Didn’t I Learn This at Business School?
    Marcus Guest, Roser Pujadas, Alastair Moore
  • Can You Build a Business With Maps? Really? Does it Matter?
    Torill Iversen, Prasanna Krishnamoorthy, Rachel Murphy & Daniel Leakey
  • Making Sense of Meaning
    Marc Burgauer, Julius Gamanyi, Sonja Blignaut
  • Maps and Government
    Dr Jacqui Taylor, Tracey Green, Simon Clifford
  • What do Wardley Maps Mean to a Government Minister, Business Executive and a Research Artist?
    Kaimar Karu, Steve Purkis, Sue Borchardt
  • Can Maps Help in This Topsy Turvy World?
    Holger Gelhausen, James Duncan, Jennifer Carlston
  • You Can’t ‘Organize’ Your Way to a Future. Principles Matter
    Farrah Campbell, Cat Swetel, Ben Mosier
  • Maps, Games, and Morality
    Liz Fong-Jones, Adrian Cockcroft, Andie Nordgren
  • Maps and Stories, Friend or Foe? Who Has the Power?
    Andrew Clay Shafer, Tiani Jones, Tal Klein
  • Post Event Fireside Chat

The replay sessions can be found on the Leading Edge Forum website and YouTube.

Also check out the hastags #mapcamp and #mapcamp2020 on twitter for comments and session chat on social media

I am currently catching up with the sessions that I didn’t get to see and certainly looking forward to next year.

Some great advice from Simon Wardley from twitter

Want to learn how to Wardley Map? Try …

4)Courses “Mapping” by Chris (@wardleymaps) learn.leadingedgeforum.com/p/wardley-mapp… “Pragmatic Wardley Mapping” @BenMosior learn.hiredthought.com/p/wardley-mapp…

3) Awesome list @jhngrant wardley-maps-community.github.io/awesome-wardle…

2) Book medium.com/wardleymaps

1) Practice!

Thinking of Blogging?

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I first wrote about starting a blog and what you need to do a couple of years ago. I am re publishing this as I have recently been asked about this topic, so thought I would bring my advice up to my latest thinking.

Blogging is not always a natural thing for people to do. “To Blog or Not to Blog!” that is the question you need to ask yourself. Should you pick up the mantle and start to write?

Blogging is a medium that has formed a bit part of the internet and in more recent times allowed a platform for the expression of the masses.

Whether you are reading them or publishing them, you will read blogs at some point. Your reading this one, so why not start one yourself.

One of the biggest issues with starting a blog is what content should you be writing about. Having an idea about what your blog is going to be about is the first step. Its not always easy to come up with topics. I have always found great inspiration from “Watercooler Conversations” which don’t always happen at the moment.

A blog is a great way of building your Social Media presence and identity, so the choice of topic and areas covered will play a big part in forming this. Here are some topic areas to help you:

  • Work based subject area
  • Re-enforce your learning areas by blogging about them
  • Hobby or interest

The main key points to blogging for me are:

  • Be Authentic
  • Be yourself
  • Don’t be afraid on posting that idea or thought
  • Don’t be afraid of posting different opinions
  • You learn things doing research for your blog posts
  • Post regularly
  • Blogging helps build your confidence
  • Blogging helps build an audience

The next stage is to choose where to host your blog. There are many different blogging platforms available that you can choose from. I have listed two Free Blogging Sites below, but there are many more that you can find using an internet search. There are already lots of reviews on which blogging site to choose and it really depends upon your needs. I’ll leave the choice down to you and your own research:

I myself have chosen WordPress as my blogging platform as it is well established and has a set a great features available on the free tier:

  • Sharing with Social platforms
  • Scheduling posts to be published at a later date
  • Good site usage statistics
  • Search indexing

When you publish a blog, you should use other social platforms such as Twitter, Linked-In and Facebook (to name a few) to share the post which will help build your audience. I do split how I use social media and where I publish to as I think it is important to keep some boundaries between personal and work based output. I cover how I do this in my post about a Personal Knowledge Management System.

Make sure you keep in mind to watch out for the Echo Chamber Effect to keep a balance on what you are communicating about.

Here are some other related posts that you may find relevant:

Your Digital Exhaust – The data we share

Digital Fit in 2018: Balancing the Noise

Digital Fit in 2018: Build up a Readership

Digital Mindset

Digital Fit in 2018: Start Blogging

Digital Fit in 2018: Get Social

A-Z of Digital – K is for Knowledge

A-Z of Digital – S is for Social

Proving it – “If it’s obvious prove it. If you can’t prove it, it’s not obvious.”

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I first wrote about this phrase back in December 2014 – “If it’s obvious prove it. If you can’t prove it, it’s not obvious“, which is one of the phrase tools I use when writing things down for others and I have been using this alot with others to help them with writing documentation and helping fill out applications.

I am republishing this blog again as it may be relevent for others, so here is the blog:

This is a phrase that I use a lot and I first came across many, many years ago from someone I previously worked with. Since then it has stuck with me.

When writing documents how often do we assume that the reader will know what we mean or understand that just because we know something is there that they do. I have seen many occasions and have fallen into the trap occasionally myself where you write about something in the manner that you know all the facts but don’t convey them.

An example of this could be a proposal or technical document;

The device has two power supplies;

  • To a technical mind the instant reaction might be that this will probably be connected to two separate power supplies and backed up by generators and UPS.
  • To a financial mind the instant reaction might be that this is extra cost not justified.
  • To the engineer who checks the proposal – I wonder how thats going to be configured?

Where in fact the writer forgot to mention that the device was a chassis that needed two power supplies to provide enough power to all the devices placed into that chassis and is fed from one power supply.

OK – in reality you should always look for redundancy and in this example that could equal four power supplies, but this example shows how easy one statement can be misinterpreted because it was obvious to the writer and not the reader.

Just food for thought… Try running that phrase against the next document, email, CV, Application, etc that you write and put yourself in the readers place.

Hope this helps you with your writing.