Errors that kill data driven decisions?

I am testing a new social app (under NDA) and I am in a group of PMs working for different companies, someone asked this interesting question

What according to you are errors that kill data driven decisions?

What I learned in the past year since I stepped into real product management at is that there are two main errors that kill data driven decisions.


Opinion is the opposite of data.

The problem with opinions is that sometimes it is hard to suppress your own opinion because you want to do something so badly so you either decide to ignore the data, or try to find data that supports your opinion (I call this data driven confirmation bias). 

It gets more problematic when the opinions come from someone higher up in the hierarchy (Your manager). You get into the dilemma of: Is she more experienced so probably she knows better? Will she not like it if I didn’t follow what she said?

Fortunately I saw this very few times and it never happened with me. Be careful with opinions.

Is the effect real?

We use data to validate our hypothesis. The question becomes: Is the effect of the change I am seeing through the data statistically significant and I can base a decision on? Or it is a random effect?

There will always be the probability of identifying unreal effect as statistically significant (false positive), however not questioning the significance you are seeing through the data might drive you to misleadingly taking decisions based on effects that aren’t real. Which eventually kill the data driven decisions.

Coursera Tube

I wish there was a mode of Coursera where I can watch videos of courses the way I watch a YouTube playlist.

I am interested in many topics but my commitment to them is different from one to another. Some I am willing to pay to get the verified certificate, others a non verified free certificate is enough, while some I am casually interested to the extent I just want to go through the videos or some of them. 

I just want to get a glimpse about the topic or extend my knowledge the way I follow a science channel on YouTube. No enrollment, no dates, no commitment, no strings attached.

Sometimes the enrollment button feels like a commitment, even if it is a casual enrollment. It will still show up on your history that you signed up for this course and didn’t finish it.

I think Khan academy does this greatly. You don’t have to sign up to start watching the courses. I hope Coursera and EDX do the same.

Coursera gift cards

I believe the best gift to someone is something that liberates them from the darkness of ignorance. Knowledge gives people the freedom to think and decide. It opens up new possibilities that weren’t open before.

One of the best sources of knowledge, and education is coursera. It still fascinates me that few years ago Harvard was just a university one doesn’t even know where it is. Now you can access their lectures mostly for free, and pay a little to verify your identity that you took the course.

The only problem with this is that still you can’t but a coursera gift card for someone. I found that my sister is using coursera and I wanted to give her a gift card she can use on the website to access the premium courses. I couldn’t.

I hope they fix this soon.

Five years out of FCI

This year marks 5 years since I graduated. I met two of my early friends at the university. They were the first two I become friend with after Hendawy.

We remembered the good old days and many of the people we met in college. We stalked some of their LinkedIn profiles and remembered different situations we had with them.

We remembered the weirdos, the good and the bad weirdos. And the most decent, respectful ones.

We reflected on our professors and TAs, the ones we liked and the ones we didn’t. The ones we respected, and the ones we consider not worth being a university professor.

Two things you realize is while some people changed, many remains as we left them. And how sticky someone’s reputation even after many years of changes.

And one more thing, I never want to go back to college.