The Top 30%

Update in 2022: I realize that Netflix may have lost this magic, somewhere down the line.

A few months ago, I was reading The New Yorker and stumbled upon a great article about Netflix and its "Algorithm." While I was interested in learning more about where Netflix Originals come from, the thing that stuck with me was a paragraph quoting Netflix's Chief Content Officer, Ted Sarandos:

“It is important to know which data to ignore,” he conceded, before saying, at the end, “In practice, its probably a seventy-thirty mix.” But which is the seventy and which is the thirty? “Seventy is the data, and thirty is judgment,” he told me later. Then he paused, and said, “But the thirty needs to be on top, if that makes sense.”

Most importantly:

“But the thirty needs to be on top, if that makes sense.”

This is how I view my job as a product manager. If I'm not careful, I can easily get innundated with data and make decisions purely based on what the numbers tell me. Doing so can get me in quite a bit of trouble quickly. If for no reason other than data is quantifying human action. Human reason & action can't /yet/ be properly defined by data.

So, if I can't rely on data completely, what do I do? Use my judgement or as some might say, my gut. My judgement is based on both my intuition, previous experiences and the data in front of me. This sometimes might mean even if the data is telling me one thing, I do another. By factoring data (the other 70%) and a human element (intuition, previous exp.) into my judgment, the last 30% becomes the most important 30%.