Pi Day is celebrated on March 14th (3/14) around the world. (Now this is not to be confused with Pie Say which comes more frequently in our household!) Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159. We all knew that.all know that.(probably).
What some of us may have forgotten is that the other thing about Pi is that it’s an irrational and transcendental number. I’m often irrational but very really transcendental, but in the case of Pi this essentially means that it will continue infinitely without repetition or pattern. No-one yet has found the “end”!!
Now I’m no mathematician, but there is something really quite meaningful about about quite a simple concept (the ratio between a circle and its diameter), being expressed by a never ending or never repeating number.
Your eyes are glazing over, you’re asking yourself what on earth has this got to do with a business blog?
Well let me tell you quickly (before you seek out an Apple Pie to munch).
I have always believed in making business simple, and Pi Day is a good reminder.For most practical purposes knowing that the value of Pi is 3.142 is enough. We really don’y need an infinite number of decimal points in the search of some spurious accuracy.
Similarly in business sometime all we need to know is whether the trends are positive or negative; we don’t need to know share points in too fine detail. Another example would be the stampede to demonstrate Marketing ROI to the nth degree. Sure we need to know whether we are getting some sort of return on out investment but it is not an exact science, simply because we are trying to aggregate many individual responses.
So my lesson from Pi Day is to beware over-complicating. Beware too much statistical analysis as a substitute for good old common sense and gut feel. Beware dividing two estimates and evaluating the result to two decimal points.
This is not to negate all use of analysis. But use you common sense and your analysis in equal proportion (or thereabouts) as support for each other. Do not let one subsume the other.
And that is my tip for Pi Day. (and talking of gut fell, I might now try a pie with a e”!!)