Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Zen and the Art of Squirrel - Not everyone wants to see your spreadsheets.

It hurts when you realize it, but not everyone wants to see your spreadsheets.

I know it is a difficult thing to hear, but I will say it again.  Not everyone wants to see your spreadsheets.

Here is the problem.  I know how much work you have put into your spreadsheets.  I know this because I write a lot of them myself, they are a pain to get everything in to the right places, and the formulas to work the way that they logically should.

Then you have to deal with the majority of the public does not even know what Excel is.

Excel is power, I know this, and you know this.

But not everyone is so enlightened.

The realization that there are people out there who have skills you cannot even begin to comprehend scares people.  Not everyone wants to see your spreadsheets.

I have a spreadsheet somewhere that goes over all of the details of sediment flow in a massive flood even on Lester River during the 2012 flood, including estimated flow volumes, sediment transport, calculations of the volume of the mouth bar and the time of deposition.  It has all kinds of cool stuff.

Not everyone wants to see it though.

There are people who want to see that sort of thing, and there were some people who were very interested in the contents of those spreadsheets.

But not everyone.

Some people are just not spreadsheet people.

We will call them deltas and make them all wear green.

We will make a spreadsheet that will keep track of them.  We can run experiments on how they react to stimuli.  We can look at how behaviors change life expectancies.  We can see what trends become evident as they get older, richer, poorer, healthier, sicker….

But, even though they are the subject of the spreadsheets, they still will not want to see them.

It is their loss, I can guarantee you.

Spreadsheets are an acquired taste; they are something that people who use large amounts of data use to make the data comprehensible.  I have used spreadsheets to analyze mountains of data, you can parse huge sets of numbers, and even better change a formula, drag it down and change the program across and entire set until you get something that works they way it is intended to work.

Spreadsheets are an incredibly valuable asset.

My work, unfortunately, does not involve any science.  I mostly analyze things like sales trends and inventory levels.  Spreadsheets make it really easy to do manipulations with things like that as well.  You can take the current inventory, the sales for the last three quarters and in twenty minutes make a list of all of the items that you need to order to make things work out for the next month’s emergency order.

Spreadsheets are awesome.  But even though I am saving the companies ass when I throw something like that together no one wants to see the spreadsheet.  They want to see the results, except a few people who will actually look at the spreadsheets and see if they agree with your methods.

Most people do not care, or do not understand.

They will never want to see your spreadsheets.

We will call them epsilons and make them all wear blue.

I think I am going to have to switch my literary references to another book for the second half of this, by Ford.

Even when they want you to write a paper about the results of your spreadsheets most people are not going to read the whole paper.  Most people are going to read the summary, scan the rest looking for things that are all in bold face letters.

This is something that makes me depressed because the presence or absence of bold face type really has nothing to do with the content of the writing.  The words that are chosen could be completely random.  They could just be the author messing with your head.  You never really can tell unless you read the entire article.

Well, I think I am going to venture out tonight, I could use a beer.  I had some horrific allergy attacks earlier and had to leave work early.  Who knows, maybe I will find someone who is interested in a snuggle, something that I will talk about in a later chapter.

Good night and good luck, and remember, not everyone wants to see your spreadsheets.

Copyright Jeff Harrison – 2015 all righst reserved.

1 comment:

  1. You should try R. https://www.r-project.org/
    "R is a free software environment for statistical computing and graphics."
    It can do everything Excel does and way more besides. There are plugins for just about anything you want to do and if they don't exist you can write them. It is what we use to process our data at work.