Choices are never the same twice

George Packer wrote in the New Yorker (quoted in Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire) on the books that Obama and his generals are reading. He wrote this about making public policy, about the difficulty of basing decisions on the past.

Making policy is about making choices, and they are never the same twice. Over the past few years, I’ve come to believe that doing it well is hard—almost impossible. It takes imagination, a knowledge of history, a certain analytical coldness, an ability to hold contradictory ideas in one’s head at the same time, intellectual courage, and prolonged immersion in staggering depths of facts. Few leaders are capable of more than one or two of these, let alone all. And given the complexities, there’s only so much policymakers can learn from their predecessors.

There’s only so much that decision makers can learn from the data.

The data industry thrives on conversation. Please submit a comment.

Other recent posts

Bohemian Grove a la BI

The Bohemian Grove of the BI industry convenes for the fifteenth time in just three weeks. Naturally, you ask the obvious question: Are you serious? The Grove? A summit? The answer begins with a fond recollection of the Grove. If you’ve never attended the Bohemian Grove yourself — I haven’t, though I live in the… Continue Reading

Favorite Star Trek, a data story

This story shows how elemental data stories really are. Humans come ready to tell and hear them, requiring no plug-ins at all. This young person can do a good job of it. There was a question, followed by data, then questions and answers, and and finally a conclusion. It’s all there. It’s elementary. Sure, this… Continue Reading

Bad stories stop good data at the water cooler

We agree by now that data’s a good compass. One neglected question is tougher: Which map? Everyone’s known the kind of “grouchy guy” TDWI instructor Kellee M. Franklin, Ph.D tells about. This guy knew better than most of his co-workers about how their Washington, D.C. defense agency worked. And he was frustrated. Over the years,… Continue Reading