Use experience or rely on data?


Use experience or rely on data?


We may like to delve deeper into this psychology of solving problems through experience. The wisdom derived from experience comes from a synthesis of data over a period of time.

I like the DIKW model , which says that we move from data to information, from information to knowledge, from knowledge to understanding and from understanding to wisdom. The wisdom piece in this theory opens up the world.

In our business excellence world (or in the Lean Six Sigma world as it is called at many places), I come across experienced professionals who say – “I don’t need a long time to address an issue. From my experience, I can just tell you where the problem is and how to solve it.” I like that kind of confidence and find that it works many times. We would be nowhere in the absence of subject matter experts.


There are traps in this journey of D->I->K->W and it is good to be aware of them.

1.      DATA – First of all, data may be erroneous or may not have the desired granularity. Data may be made up to support viewpoints. Erroneous data can lead to a change in beliefs and can even generate misplaced wisdom. An inadvertent error by a scientist in data entry resulted in an interesting sequence that affected millions of people.

2.  INFORMATION – Let us now assume that we have got the right data. Data needs to be processed or organized to get information out of it. Conversion of data into information is plagued by several issues like over-generalization. For example, time spent on each phone call in a support center is “data”. The calculated average of time spent on phone calls is “information”. There are many tools that convert data into information. One of them is Pareto analysis. Converting data into information has its flaws.

3.  KNOWLEDGE – Synthesized/ organized/ analyzed information is called knowledge. One method of generating knowledge from information is to standardize a sequence and create instructions. Handling a phone call can be considered as knowledge within a company once it has been standardized. Setting it up as a process for everyone to do things right is one part and creating process controls is another. Without effective controls, knowledge is not put to good use. There are dilemmas in process control.

4.  UNDERSTANDING – Questioning common process knowledge needs to be encouraged. As we ask questions on why a process is in its current state, it results in better understanding and helps identify opportunities to improve the process. As we notice certain problems in a process, we carry out root cause analysis for them. This is certainly not easy and people make mistakes.

5.      WISDOM – Having a very good understanding of the process does not always generate broad wisdom. Translation of “understanding” to “wisdom” entails modification of methods and solutions obtained in one situation to be able to apply them in another situation.

Misplaced wisdom is common – Some professionals believe that just training hundreds of people on Six Sigma within their company will lead to better problem-solving. This belief has been counter-productive at many places.

Coming back to our original story of an expert claiming that he can solve a problem in a jiffy based on his experience, DIKW model may ring a bell to guide us. It is important to explore possible gaps, especially when irreversible decisions are to be taken while solving a complex problem.

Experience generally does not replace the need for good data and good data cannot be replaced completely by experience. DIKW model does provide some insights.

Among the translations in the D->I->K->W journey, where do you think the most damaging gaps are? Please feel free to post your views or make comments.

Ability to Map the Business with huge cost reduction from 2% to 20% in the dynamic enviornment therefore increasing the profitability from 2% to 20% ,Increased customer satisfaction score by 90% and customer/client retention by 20%.

EGS conducts workshops related to problem solving and decision making all across India and partners with a limited number of companies each year.



Er. Kartik Anil Gilani

Founder, An equivalent to Data Scientist & Strategic Consultant

at Ennate Global Services [EGS],                                                      {formerly Printways}

Popularly known as Er. Kartik Anil Gilani enjoys developing and utilizing engaging methods in his training and simulation workshops. KG has been into business improvement roles as a consultant,  and trainer for manufacturing and service industry for over 14+ years. He has trained more than 300 professionals of varying seniority of workshops in India. He has been involved in consulting assignments with leading organizations like Eleentech Pvt. Ltd., Paharpur Cooling towers Lmited (3P), Accenture, Nitco Logistics Pvt. Ltd., Akshyan Power Systems Pvt. Ltd. , Car Spa, Pee Pee Kay Enterprises & handful Individuals continuosly implementing personalized technology TLSSE tools and techniques.

T = Theory of Constraints fundamentals

L = Lean Six Sigma

S = Sales

S = Six Sigma

E = MS Excel Basics

He can be contacted via his linkedin profile at-


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