Value for me is about why it all matters. Value means that statistics and data are useful, easy to access, remain relevant, and support understanding of important issues. These things mean that the statistics will be used. Without statistics being of value, they risk becoming irrelevant.
Statistics should bring something to the party.
But why should we be invited to the party in the first place?
The pandemic has demonstrated the crucial value of statistics and of statisticians being involved in decision making and debate.
The statistical community really stepped up in providing new, innovative and highly relevant analyses. We sought to provide answers to the questions that decision makers and society needed answered. We saw the power of statistics to inform, to paint a picture. That is what value is all about. We were at the heart of the party! Without us being there, statistics cannot serve the public good. We need to value ourselves, and our statistics to demonstrate that value.
The value of valuable statistics
Early in my career, my colleague and I organised a session about government statistics for a school ‘careers in maths’ day. We were going to spend all day talking to 14-year olds about maths – probably not the most exciting prospect to them.
To try to engage them we developed a session based around why (government) statistics are important. The session, called ‘King for a Day’, involved crowning a child king (or queen) and getting the children to develop the list of statistics that they would need to run the kingdom.
Nothing was out of bounds. If the children decided that knowing the number of goals scored by the top football teams was a priority for their king, then it went on the list. I didn’t realise it at the time, but we had decided to talk about the value of statistics rather than simply how to produce good quality ones.
Without valuable statistics, the children realised their kingdoms couldn’t run properly, and their ‘citizens’ couldn’t hold them to account. They learned the value of valuable statistics, and why they are essential for the public good.
So how do we ensure that we are invited to the party?
We keep getting invited by….
- Being relevant – engaging in conversation with others at the party, listening, understanding what they need and responding accordingly.
- Being accessible – recognising that different party goers need different things to get the most from the party.
- Being clear and insightful – clearly explaining to the others what we are bringing to the party and how it can be useful. Ensuring that what we bring compliments what others are bringing.
- Being innovative –keeping listening and improving what we bring.
- Being efficient – recognising that we can share resources. Providing a clear rationale for why we are asking for certain things to be supplied to the party, and not overburdening others by asking them to contribute too much.
For more information on the Code and the three pillars, you can visit the Code website. There are also case studies that demonstrate how statistics producers have implemented different practices in the Code.