Guest Post: The To Do List

We met Raleigh Gresham recently at Atlanta Product Camp and immediately found a data kinship. We especially loved one of his blog posts on To Do Lists and got permission to post it here on the Juice blog. You can check out his post below and other writings here.


To-do list

To do lists. The pinnacle translation of any data set. The final act of simplification for any analysis.

They are reports in their most primal state. They achieve the ultimate goal of any applied datum, answering the core question “what do we do now?”

For the rare data user hoping to generate utility from their analytical efforts, this simplest of reports is worth fighting and editing for. They demand data isolate the next actions. Ignoring the excuses of technology and governance that are liberally used by so many in their field, they relentlessly “sculpt” the data with analytics until the simplicity of checkboxes is all that’s left.

When this data dharma is finally achieved, they are done. They add nothing more. They make no apologies for the simplicity or the unfamiliar clarity of the result.  A to do list leaves no room for the theory-making and hypothesis-spinning rendered by common reports. There is no buffer for interpretation. The comforts of second guessing dissolve. Someone becomes accountable for action.

To do lists are ruthlessly challenging to achieve. Most analysts do not have the stomach for them. To create to do lists, one must be willing to call action out — to recommend movement. Action is risky. Movement changes the status quo. It takes great resolve to settle for nothing less than a to do list.