Does your data science team need an anthropologist?

Data science requires understanding your users as much as understanding your data.

While there are many examples of social scientists who have become excellent data scientists, the “anthropologist” in the title refers to Jonathan Littman’s definition in The Ten Faces of Innovation.

For Littman, an anthropologist is a team member who obsessively studies users to understand how they work, what their pain points are, and where the ideal interventions could be targeted.

In the context of data democratization - enabling all users to leverage data more effectively - this means identifying users’ levers, and figuring out how to put the right data next to those levers.

For many great software engineers and data scientists, this does not come naturally.

But for others, it’s the most obvious and natural thing in the world. These are the anthropologists.

Does your team have an anthropologist? Do you need one?