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CP009: Averages are Mean – Know these things before you make any more AVERAGE()s



In the 9th session of Chandoo.org podcast, lets raise above AVERAGEs.

CP009: Averages are mean - Know these things before you calculate any more AVERAGE()s - Chandoo.org Podcast

What is in this session?

At this exact time, one in every 3 analysts in the world are calculating an AVERAGE().  – Someone

AVERAGEs are a very popular and universal way to summarize data. But do you know they are mean? Mean as in, AVERAGEs do not reveal much about your data or business. In episode 9 of Chandoo.org podcast, we tackle this problem and present solutions.

In this podcast, you will learn,

  • What is AVERAGE?
  • Pitfalls of averages
  • 5 statistic concepts you must understand
    • Standard Deviation
    • Median
    • Quartiles
    • Outliers
    • Distribution of data
  • What next?

NOTE: This is a 2 part podcast. 2nd part will be published next week.

Go ahead and listen to the show

Links & Resources mentioned in this session:

Example of a box plot - used to understand the distribution of dataAverage FormulaSyntax, examples

Explanation of Standard Deviation

Making a box plot

Statistics & Probability for analyst – a guide

Transcript of this session:

Download this podcast transcript [PDF].

Do you use AVERAGEs for your analysis? What do you think about them?

AVERAGE is such an easy and convenient thing that we use it often. For many of my reports I start with AVERAGE and then improve the metrics to show insights.

What about you? Do you calculate AVERAGE() for your reports? What other types of statistics you use to summarize data? Where do you find AVERAGE to be useful (or useless)? Please share your thoughts using comments.

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8 Responses to “CP009: Averages are Mean – Know these things before you make any more AVERAGE()s”

  1. Chris Macro says:

    My favorite quote from the podcast:

    "Averages are like skirts....they show enough to get your imagination going but don't reveal everything."

    Awesome analogy Chandoo!! haha 😀

  2. Krishna Mysore says:

    Averages can be misleading......at least it seems to be for a Statistician, check it out why,

    A statistician on a visit to a country side comes across a river and wishes to take a dip. Before plunging in, he stops a passer-by and enquires about the average depth of the river. Around 5 feet, replies the passer-by. Having convinced it was safe as he was taller than the average depth dives into the water but soon drowns. Well apart from obvious reason that he was unable to swim, the depth of the water was much deeper at the spot where he plunged in than the average 5ft.

  3. […] never been disagreeable with me, but in his latest podcast, Chandoo explains that Averages are Mean. And they must be really mean, because there will be a part 2, later this […]

  4. Stephen says:

    Great post! Especially, the key points regarding the incomplete story you get with just an average. Interested to see if you or others discuss the sigma levels (+/- 1 stddev) from the average. Similar to how you mentioned the helpfulness of the median and quartiles, the average +/- 1st stddev shows the range of values where roughly 68% of your data lies with reference to the average...powerful stuff! Thanks!

  5. Kamesh says:

    Great podcast Chandoo! Hope you will have a great road trip and come back with more to share. Perhaps, a sequel to this discussion about histograms and how to automatically create frequency tables and bins in excel would be great value add. Also, an insight on when to accept or reject a data. Thanks again!

  6. Lee Helen says:

    Thank you so much for the podcast! It is very insightful. Looking forward to the 2nd podcast. Grateful for all your time in sharing your vast knowledge to the world. Hope you have a wonderful family time.

  7. Hi Chandoo - Thanks for sharing your Excel knowledge with us. Very powerful and insightful indeed. Looking forward to more podcasts!

  8. kiran says:

    Thanks for this post chandoo i m your biggest fan.... I love U

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