“Across our 100 locations, sales on average are up 3% last month.”
This tells you exactly nothing.
It turns out that ten of the outlets each saw their sales double, while most of the other ones are stagnating or even decreasing in sales. That’s the insight.
Averages almost always hide insights instead of exposing them. If the problem is interesting enough to talk about, it’s interesting enough to show the true groupings and differences that the average is hiding.
Here’s what’s worth discussing instead: What are the outliers? What do they have in common? Are there explainable trends, or is there merely noise?
The hard part about telling the truth with numbers often isn’t finding the truth. It’s having the guts to share the truth.
Reblogged from: here