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Football lesson: Data-informed decisions

Posted on: January 23, 2016

Making decisions informed by fact rather than feeling is a good thing. However, some people misinterpret what is means to make data-informed decisions.

A retired and naturalised Singaporean footballer released his biography recently. The press picked up his criticism of the Football Association of Singapore.

Duric reportedly said:

Unfortunately, too many people involved in running Singapore football don’t understand football anywhere near as well as they understand spreadsheets.

The ex-footballer accused decision makers of bean-counting and not being in touch with the sport. The regulating agency gave a template response that we have come to expect.

Regulating and controlling bodies make decisions in schooling and education too. With the stakes so high, they often rely on hard data. But they are not immune from bean-counting disease.

Making informed decisions is not just about getting good data. People make up the numbers in budgets, attendance, and votes. It is easy to hide behind the numbers and to manipulate outcomes in spreadsheets. It is a lot harder to meet the people, listen to them, and do what is best for them.

What is best for teachers and students can run counter to what is in a spreadsheet. A bean counter will insist the spreadsheet is right. A change maker will grind those beans and have coffee with the people that matter. 

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