Tag Archives: 柏木吉基

This is a apart of my university program “Practical application of Business statistics”.

We started the semester by asking the students to

“Make your conclusion(s) by comparing any kinds of two or more data sets”.

The students were allowed to use any data, index or techniques to make a conclusion as I did not teach any analytical techniques nor thinking process yet.

After one week, the students prepared quite interesting works as follows (this is only a part of the all results):

Each student presented their own work within 5 min.  and we discussed how convincing and interesting it was in the class. Also discussed how you could have improved it in order to make the conclusion clearer and more convincing (this is important part).

My objective of the assignment was to make a “story” based on the face(data) , rather simply comparing the data, as the goal of business data analysis is NOT making an analysis result but finding useful insights and making a conclusion to convince your business partners.

I gave each student my feedbacks in the following viewpoints:

(A) Did you do an appropriate comparison?  — eg. number of automobiles in the US and Japan cannot be directly compared as they have different population.

(B) Did you make a conclusion (story) rather than showing calculation results? — Your audience wants to hear not results but “conclusion!”

(C) Is your conclusion based on the facts derived from data? —  Didn’t you put lots of your own assumptions to make the conclusion? (This is called “Logic jump”)

These three points are fundamental to business data literacy. I am not going to talk about “academic” statistics in my class but very practical business data literacy which is required in the AI (Artificial Intelligence) era.

I would be happy to provide my workshop class at your university class as well!

Part 1: What does it mean “to utilize data analysis in practice”? What do you need?

■ Because “XX is not enough” that “I can not master the data”
As a professional in solving practical problems using data analysis, I conduct business training, practical support, lectures, etc. I also teach at business schools and universities.

Many people have studied data analysis and statistics until now. Nevertheless, I always hear the following concerns:
“Somehow uncomfortable with the results”
“There is data, but I do not realize that I am mastery of it”
“I can not use what I actually learned”
.

It is not necessarily caused by misuse of hard skills such as “analytical method”, “data science”, “statistics”, but the soft skills of people using them are not enough .
■ Then, what is practical “data analysis”?
Can you clearly and specifically answer to the question: “What do you need for data analysis?” And “What do you need to do for data analysis?”. What is the output of “data analysis”, what can you do with the output to achieve your goal?
In fact, many people tend to start to play around with data, without making those answers clear. In such case, you may not be able to draw out any useful information from data.

We often hear the word “data science”.
And then you may think “As long as you appropriately process the data, you can get valuable information out of the data automatically”
There are so many people who have such an impression .

Let’s try to sort out the categories and scope of the “data analysis” (see figure below).

The figure above shows a simplified representation of the world covered by the word “data analysis” in general . However, please be aware that my thinking “that the person in charge is using data (analysis) in practice” is part of it (“Data Analysis” category in the figure).

In general, the technical category handled by a data analysis expert (data scientist) is the top layer in the above figure. In order to become an expert in the upper category (Data Science), you need knowledge and understanding of academic mathematics, statistics, programming and latest technology.
However, it is quite unusual for a business company in general to hire an in-house data analysis specialist(s) all the time. This is because it is an area that you can outsource from time to time or leave it to a “machine”.

On the other hand, huge data can be easily gathered through internet, and there are overwhelmingly many cases where “non-data scientist” wants to quickly use it for his/her immediate goal. This is depicted in the middle (Data analysis) and the lower (Data Arrangement/Processing) categories.
Note that there is a huge gap in reality between the top layer and middle&lower layers(categories).
Never a business person who is not an expert on data analysis can do something even with sophisticated analytical tools, methods, statistical theory.

And, there is also a clear important reason to divide the middle and lower categories.

From small startups to super-large enterprises, there are many companies that has the trouble of “We have lots of data but not enough results with sufficient analysis”. Those companies end with the lower categories and never reach the middle without noticing the fact.
It is difficult to obtain “useful and convincing” analytical results only within the lower category. The goal should be in the middle category for utilizing the data analysis results for your business objective.

What absolutely necessary in any case is to identify the category where you use the data according to the ultimate goal you want to achieve (do you want to apply the latest technologies? Or to resolve the problem with data analysis or simply to visualize the data trend ? etc.) BEFORE starting collecting or processing any data!

In this article, we will cover the middle and lower categories in the chart. In other words, it will be a totally different story from this article to talk about the latest technology trends and programming for professional data scientists.
The common issue is that many organizations stops its data utilization in the lower category and have not reached up to the middle category (Data analysis). If you can expand the scope of your data utilization to the middle category, then you may get useful results required in your team/organization.
It is neither “statistical theory” nor “advanced analysis methods and tools” nor “the latest programming technology”.

No matter how fundamental or how data collection and processing methods are based on state-of-the-art technology, human skills (soft skills, “Data analysis” in the following chart) are required for the following process:

· What kind of data should be used
· How to interpret and utilize the output/result

As mentioned above, people and organizations who are not familiar with data are completely missing (not shortage) the soft skills.

■ Some misunderstanding on practical data analysis
Some people might think “I want to have the data analysis skills”.
“If I get to know even more analysis methods, additional and useful information can be obtained from the usual data.”
But, after some time you struggle with the data, you may understand that the idea is a just “illusion”.

Why is it “illusion”?
There are several reasons and backgrounds for this, but here I will tell you the most obvious (and easy to fall) background (see the figure below).

Before starting any actions using data, you should ask the fundamental question “How detailed does the data in your hands comprehensively represents the reality of the issue?”

Examples of data available to any companies are such as “sales results” and “customer satisfaction score” etc. Some data can be decomposed by product, by customer attribute, by region, by time, etc.
But no matter how much you are decomposing the data, you do not get information like “Why is your sales higher on Friday than on Wednesday?” Or “Why is the score in AreaA lower than that in AreaB?”
It is necessary to return to the reality that the data shows only a part of reality. Furthermore, the information that analysts can derive from that data should be also only a part of the overall information that the data has.

From time to time, I use such expressions in my lecture:
“There is no answer in the data”

Under the illusion of “There must be an answer I want to know in the data”, I ‘ve seen a lot of cases in which they struggle with the data endlessly, resulting in no practical results in the end. In this way, data analysis does not go well in practice.

So how can you resolve the issue?

Do not search for an answer. Rather, you make your own answer and verify it with data!
To do so, you need to begin by defining your issue and goal concretely and developing the necessary logic as a hypothesis.

(To be continued)

Business plan presentations by international students at Yokohama National University

On Feb. 14 in 2018, the international students at YCCS  (Yokohama Creative-City Studies) program presented their own business plans.

It is a requirement for all the YCCS international students at the end of the semester to show their skills and ability which they acquired in the classes to develop a feasible business plan.

I participated in the event as one of the judges to evaluate their proposals.  Each judge is required to place a bit to some of the proposals as an investor.

The major criteria are

(i) Creativity,

(ii) Uniqueness,

(iii) financial validity and

(iv) logic

Not only a creative idea but also “business reality” such as solid logic and financial validation is required

I was so happy to know that they properly applied the skills which I taught in my classes, especially financial validation, benchmarking, logic development and data utilization. etc.

I believe that this kind of program is quite unique not only in Japan but in general. But this is really worth learning for the students who will start their professional careers in the complex and competitive business environment.

I am so proud that they did great jobs. Congratulations!!

Business Logical thinking class at Yokohama National University

We have finished final exam presentations today in the class.

It was required to make a team presentation to propose a product development strategy for the global market.

The question was which to put more priority, ECO-friendly or Price-conscious products for the global market. The students were required to apply :

• Logical thinking process and approaches
• Techniques to make a logical structure for presentation

in the presentation.

The conclusion must be supported from several perspectives such as company’s profit, brand image, customers, social responsibility etc.

Five teams presented their stories today. They did a great job!

Final exam: Business Problem Solving Logics and Framework (at Yokohama National University)

This is an example of the final exam requirements of my class(“Business Problem Solving Logic and Framework) for undergraduate students at Yokohama National University.

This year, I picked up a hot topic in Japan facing the challenges to welcome lots of inbound visitors before and during Tokyo Olympic in 2020.

My class is all designed for the international students who spend four years for business study at the university. They already experienced how hard it is to live, study and work in Japan as non-Japanese students.

My goal of the class and exam is for them to find their own solutions but in a logical way.

In the class, the students learn some process and techniques/framework to solve a (business, social) problem in a logical way such as:

• Logic tree development
• Problem formulation
• Root cause analysis
• Hypothesis approach etc.

After spending several weeks for those individual study, we start “group exercise”, where your facilitaion skills are required to cordinate discussion among the students with different backgrounds.

It is really challenging and demanding, but it is an extremely sutable situation where you can learn how to manage possible conflicts in the “global” workplace with the people from the diverse backgrounds.

I am really excited to see their final presentations in the coming few weeks!

Good Luck!

It was a year-end class today at Yokohama National University in Japan.

In my class, “Business problem solving”, the international student groups tackled the following short exercise :

In the exercise, the groups switched the facilitator roles for each question so that they can learn how to facilitate small group discussion efficiently.

It was just a short case but they learned the problem-solving process and how to lead discussion to get a conclusion within the limited time.

We will keep this kind of exercises until the end of semester in Feb.

What is the wrong “problem solving” process?

This is what we discussed in today’s class at Yokohama National University, “Problem-solving” class.

Wrong and right processes of problem solving in my class.

– You should NOT just come up with a single cause factor.

– You need to list all the possible cause factors and then identify the root cause before considering effective solution(s).

After discussing a general rules of the process, we started individual exercise followed by a team discussion on what are good, what are bad.

As a second exercise, the students made their “WHY-type Logic tree” for the designated issue:

You have to mention “Machine factor” and “Human factor” at least.
I designed my class contents which I would like to take as a university student but I could not.

This extremely practical classes are provided for international students in English.