Valuing Answers15 March, 2021
How much do you value an answer? What return could you see based on having the right information? And more importantly, how much could you save by finding out?
2021 is the year of the UK census.
Every 10 years the Office for National Statistics counts the whole population. Not only this they ask 51 questions that range from your age and household compostion to what you do for a living, where you work and even what different passports you hold.
In 2011 this exercise cost £482m which many of you, like me, will think is a lot of money.
That’s around £10 per UK resident.
What do you get for that kind of investment?
Money well spent?
The data from that census has been used for many things from understanding where to locate hospitals, how to deploy fire engines and where to draw lines on maps for electoral purposes, to helping charities understand where their help migh be best directed and even supermarkets locating new and upgraded stores.
It has also provided a treasure trove of trivia for the data minded and pub quiz fraternity:
- Women outnumbered men by almost 1 million1
- London's boroughs are growing and declining but not in the ways you might think2
- Eden in Cumbria is really paradise, the perfect place for those who don't like crowds3
And because the results of the cesus are so comprehensive the results of the census continue to inform policies and actions for 10 years (not to mention the fascination of geneologists and family historians 100 years later).
An evaluation of the impact of this information demonstrated it provided benefits of £490 million each year.
That £482m now looks a lot smaller. It also looks great value. It’s an investment.
I need to know...
Thinking about data and information in this way can help focus your mind too. Of course you don't have the financial or legal resources to collect such an indepth set of answers as the census but that doens't mean you don't have questions.
Your's might include:
- Who exactly are your customers?
- What assets are there in my local community that I can build on?
- What do the parents and carers we want to work with need from us to make our partnership effective?
- What difference are we making for the customers we serve?
So what value would you place on having the answers and information to these types of questions?
Better still, would investing in having the skills and confidence to keep on asking different questions4 like these and finding the information to answer them pay dividends for you?
To paraphrase a well known proverb,
Ask someone to give you an answer and you'll feed your curiosity for a day.
Learn to find the answer and you'll feed that curisoity for a lifetime.
1 But is this down to women being better at administrative tasks or because men are more often away from home because of work?
2 Affluent Kensington & Chelsea saw a population fall whilst Tower Hamlets, the poorest London borough grew. What did this mean on the ground for those living there?
3 Eden in Cumbria has the lowest population density in Cumbria but that doesn't mean it won't be crowded at Center Parcs in the summer holidays.
4 It always pays to look that little bit deeper and ask questions like those above.
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