Lindsey Rogers Cook, editor for Digital Storytelling and Training at the New York Times wrote this very interesting piece on How We Helped Our Reporters Learn to Love Spreadsheets. One of the key reasons Journalists became journalists was because they were not interested in Math. Or so we thought. But it is now apparent that an increasing number of journalistic disciplines are dependent on data and those who control the narrative – governments, politicians and corporations all want to twist those numbers in support of their own agendas. It is akin to the earlier question of whether Journalists should learn to code. While the answer to that was a resounding “No” , those who did learn to code went on to “have mashed databases to discover wrongdoing, designed immersive experiences that transport readers to new places and created tools that change the way we work.”
However it posed a challenge. The ability to handle spreadsheets. As numbers became critical in areas like education, stock market, census etc. and more and more data was released (250,000 datasets in data.gov alone) it became clear that one needs to learn how to improve their data skills starting with “beginner skills like sorting, searching and filtering; progresses to pivot tables; and ends with advanced data cleaning skills such as if and then statements and ‘v‘lookup. “
So what is the connection with Startups and Founders you wonder? As more and more Founders come from backgrounds other than computer science and places other than Silicon Valley, as more and more data is tracked by startups and measuring what matters become critical – Founders need to understand how to use spreadsheets effectively. In my talks with investors and founders one of the most common issues that come up is the aversion or inability or both of founders to read, track and review data specially those in the business plans and balance sheets.
A Founder’s course on use of spreadsheets specifically designed for startups seem to be an idea whose time has come.
What are your thoughts on this?
Link to article
How We Helped Our Reporters Learn to Love Spreadsheets by Lindsey Rogers Cook