It’s summer. A time to take things a little slower— have a little more time to think. And as this is the beginning of July, there are a good two more months to enjoy the season. For those of you who are working on developing your Tableau heft, maybe thinking about ramping up for the September customer conference in D.C. or for a project at work, I offer the perspective that these dog days can be useful because they allow time to reflect on how learning really happens.
The allure of Tableau is that just about anybody can open a data file and produce something meaningful: can become a credible analyst in short order. Tableau offers incredible power to, maybe especially to, the little guy in the trenches. The combination of ease and potential attracts many users to Tableau and continues to hold us in ways that can be simultaneously intoxicating and frustrating.
It’s tempting to make a judgment about how long it will take to become better than good.
When in 1999, David Dunning and Justin Kruger had students at Cornell take logic and humor tests and then report on how well they thought they had done, a few people knew they were logical or funny. These individuals accurately predicted their own results, but most respondents were way off. Way off. It now seems to me that learning Tableau makes you a front-runner for the Dunning-Kruger Effect.
The Dunning-Kruger Effect suggests that when we are in the beginning stages of learning, we are prone to think we are better than we are. As we learn more, we begin to realize how much more there is to know, and how much we don’t know. It is only at this point that we become decent judges of our abilities.
But as David McRaney, author of You Are Not So Smart, cautions, “Don’t let the Dunning-Kruger effect cast its shadow over you. If you want to be great at something, you have to practice, and then you have to sample the work of people who have been doing it for their whole lives.” And if you only focus on your successes rather than your failures, you miss half the equation. When you try and fail, you are forced to adapt and change. With success, you just keep on doing the same thing.
Recently, long time TUG mentor and Founding Tableau Training Partner, Stephen McDaniel, took his leave from corporate Tableau to continue his work with Eileen McDaniel at Freakalytics. On behalf of the Seattle Tableau User Group, we salute them for teaching us to employ an analytical process while we are learning to use Tableau. Thanks for encouraging us to keep going.
Enjoy your summer— and your efforts—and sample the best work you can find, some of which will undoubtedly be theirs.