CHAPTER 13No Free LunchThe Impediments to—and Limitations of—Agile Analytics

Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

—Peter Drucker

Along with Part Three, Chapter 12 enumerates the benefits of adopting an Agile approach to analytics. Still, to claim that there are no downsides would be demonstrably false. As we see in this chapter, no deployment method guarantees a successful outcome.

Note that I place the issues in this chapter into two buckets: people and data. In reality, though, these distinctions aren’t nearly so neat. For instance, data-quality issues plague many a firm because employees don’t fully understand the importance of clean and comprehensive data.


Peter Drucker’s quote at the beginning of this chapter holds a great deal of water. Despite great resources, many corporate initiatives spectacularly fail. In reality, some never had a chance of success because of cultural and people issues.

Resistance to Analytics

As powerful as data and analytics can be, they are often no match for human resistance. Remember that analytics generally don’t do anything by themselves. Chapters 8 and 9 crystallize the profound cultural differences between Google and the apocryphal Beneke Pharmaceuticals. Fundamentally, Laszlo Bock embraced analytics while “Tom” actively resisted them.

Tom has plenty of company. Billy Beane of Moneyball fame routinely clashed with longtime scouts who were unwilling to even look at data. I know an acquisitions editor who refused to let ...

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