Understanding data and the one metric that matters

There is a lot written about the Coronavirus every day. However, as the volume of content goes up, so does the amount of unhelpful data thrown into what is written. As a result, it is challenging to find answers all the questions that might be on our minds – are local officials panicking?, are they reacting fast enough?, is that total case number too high?, etc.

A better approach to understanding the data is to focus on one or two ratios/metrics that matter. In this case, I think we’d be better served if we ignored the news and just looked for change in one ratio – Total number of cases / Total number of new cases yesterday.

The result is the number of days it takes for cases to double. If that number is =<7, then the strictest of lock downs are called for as cases doubling every week will overwhelm the healthcare system and result in more fatalities. If that number is >10 or 15 and increasing, it means the strict measures are working.

Of course, this applies just as well to any business or product we work on. While there may be any number of possible metrics or pieces of data to react to, boiling things down to one or two ratios/metrics that speak to the fundamentals of our business/product help us quickly discern the signal from the noise.