WARNING: Your brain may melt trying to understand the shenanigans of Context in already difficult field of stats. So here is my article to understand context & statistical analysis.
Most of my shenanigans with analytics happened after I joined SKDRDP. Since I learned analytics by following blogs like KISSMetrics, Lunametrics, Avinash Kaushik etc.. I was filled with preconceived notions like Bounce rate is a metric of badness, Try to keep visitors on site to stick longer etc.. Despite reading them for most part of my MBA, I couldn’t answer what and why’s of these metrics. These preconceived notions ultimately led to my undoing as I knew only the numbers, not the environment in which they operate. Hence whenever you want to interpret numbers understand Environment. To understand the dynamics of Environment I had to resort to books of Devdutt Pattanaik (Business Sutra : A Very Indian Approach to Management). It had metaphor of Lakhsmi which shed light on “Why What How” framework.
What How Why manifests in nature various ways like Lakshmi, Durga, Saraswati or as Problem Statement, Research Methodology, Research Findings. Also other manifestations of it are Knowledge, Skill, Experience. Without getting confused lets dive into the framework.
Knowing the Context: “What?”
The question of “what?” pertains to our vision. Here the question to be asked is “What’s Happening?”. To understand what’s happening you have to see it. So the primary skill required here is being unbiased while “Seeing” the ground realities. In short understand “What’s happening?” but don’t use your thinking and analysis skills here.
There are various manifestations of the question “what?”. Below are some:
- “What I am trying to achieve?” here its called as Problem Statement.
- “What is happening around me?” here its called as Observation.
- “What’s the fund supposed to achieve?” here its called Fund’s Goal.
- “What does this number mean?” here its called as Knowledge.
The question of “what?” normally pertains to events that happened in particular point in time. It only reveals your understanding of the events.
Dynamics of the Context: “How?”
The question of “How?” pertains to our inquisition skill. Here the question to be asked is “How did it happen?”. To understand how the thing happened you have to see the entire narrative or scene. Here the “How?” pertains to the process being undertaken. In short understand “How the things are shaping up or how it happened?” but don’t try to infer or jump to conclusion.
Here are some of the How’s:
- “How will I reach my goal?” this is called as Plan.
- “How did it happen?” this is called as Process Explanation.
- “How will the experiment be conducted?” this is called as Research Methodology
The question of “How?” tells about events that happened. This is about things happening over the course of time. The biases of methodology creeps in during this stage, hence be aware of the limits and biases.
Playing the Context: “Why?”
The question of “Why?” pertains to our understanding. Here the question to be asked is “Why did it happen?”. Here its necessary to apply thinking power of us. One can use this only after you have answered the “What?” and “How?”. Hence its important to get the event and process correct before diving into understanding of event.
When the what?, how? and why? are combined together we call it as research. The research is considered important because it sheds light wast ocean of context and tries to explain it definitively. As the researches pile up on one another it creates a body of knowledge.