The Art of Data Teams: Exploring the Relationship Between Qualitative and Quantitative Thinkers


The best data teams are the ones that tell the most insightful stories. But what characterizes a good versus poor data team? I’ve found — from my 15 years of experience working with data— that it always boils down to the relationship between qualitative and quantitative team members and how they complement each other.

First, what do I mean by qualitative and quantitative?

Generally, the qualitative thinker is visually and verbally gifted and has the business chops to understand and explain the shifting groundwork of any given industry. They are likely managers or leaders, deal with bigger picture challenges, and are client facing.

On the other hand are quantitative individuals. These are the analytical thinkers — the facts and figures miners — and they can explain why certain phenomena occur with models, regressions, and evidence supported by data big and small. While they can make sense of the numbers, they oftentimes lack the business savvy and experience to relate it back to the bigger picture, or to clearly explain how their findings impact business trends.

Together, they make the modern data team. Part analytical wizard and part storyteller, equipped to make sense of complex systems with data-powered narrative. Their effectiveness depends on how the team is structured, leading to reports that are either mind-blowingly insightful, have a few interesting takeaways here and there, or are total data mush.

I am a mathematician and qualitative thinker by trade and have worked on successful, lackluster, and subpar data teams across various organizations. While I was at Gartner, an IT research and advisory firm, I learned something really interesting about what defines a good vs. mediocre vs. poor data team, and how to work with a qualitative teammate to create insightful reports quickly.

At Gartner, our immediate data team consisted of only two of us; myself on the quant-side, and my boss as the qualitative leader. We were tasked with advising CTO’s and IT managers on how to attribute IT spending and personnel back to the bottom line impact of the overall business. Working on-site, my qual-minded boss would piece together a story of what was happening at a high level and where the bottom line could likely be improved with his strong business chops. He would then articulate this message to me and I would work to gather the data to support or negate his assumptions. With our story complete, we would present to CTO’s and tech managers on ways to optimize their IT businesses. We soon became so adept at the job that we were providing the services of other 10 person teams.

Initially, we figured our high performance was the product of our individual quant and qual strengths but this was not the case. What actually allowed us to outcompete most every team was my understanding of storytelling and business themes, partnered with his comprehension of analytics and data tools. For example, when we were compiling a client report, he knew just enough about analytics, and what was possible, to structure our story with missing quantitative arguments that I could quickly generate. He trusted that I had the business wherewithal to gather the relevant data and display it in a way that would support the story he was crafting and appeal to our client’s interests. In effect, we were simultaneously creating the same storyline — he laid out the structure, and I filled in the missing pieces with the right data, days and weeks before our competitors could.

This mutual understanding also allowed us to hold each other accountable without wasting time. He would constantly challenge my approach and ask why I did things a certain way, where the data came from, how it was presented, if there were any missing variables, how it supported or negated the story we were telling, etc. On the other hand, I would challenge his assumptions with data evidence and course correct his pitch to the client if my analysis conveyed a different narrative.

Essentially, we found the ‘Goldilocks’ principal of overlapping skillsets: “not too much, not too little, but just right. We were not too different-minded to make it difficult to communicate, nor did we overlap to the extent where we were stepping on each other’s toes.


After realizing the effectiveness of this team dynamic firsthand, I started to incorporate it into my company, Psocratic. We started by hiring two quant-minded employees with business chops and partnered them with our qualitative storyteller, who understood analytics, to work on a handful of projects. In one week, we identified three major initiatives to benefit the company. Three months after that, we had created two reports that became core pillars of Psocratic, and built a tool that we used to validate our entire model; all of this 4 months ahead of schedule!

From there we took this approach one step further and incorporated it into our actual well-being and leadership product. We do this by providing storylines for individuals, teams, and organizations that are fueled by quantitative reasoning. For example, each user and client of our platform is provided with a compelling storyline that is supported with data to quantify their mental health or human capital statistics.

In the future, we plan to play around with this model a bit. Hiring multiple quantitative teammates and storytelling types, that care about our overall mission of improving mental health, and putting them into two person teams on a rotating basis. Constant circulation will allow for more access and exposure with other teammates to help spread skills and increase empathetic thinking. We will obviously be crafting a data-supported narrative along the way.

Psocratic is a proactive behavioral health platform on a mission to advance workplace culture and wellness. Schedule a demo or say hello: info@psocratic.com 🙌

The Psocratic Index: Measuring Employee Wellness vs. Profitability

At Psocratic, we believe happier, healthier employees can increase your profits — so much so that we built our business on it! But how can you tell if your company is on the right track?

By measuring company culture, pay, leadership, and other personnel factors against profits and revenue, we’ve created The Psocratic Index, an interactive proprietary tool that can help companies understand where they fall within their industry.

Click here to explore The Psocratic Index to see where your company stands.

Don’t see your company or industry? We would love to add you to our growing index, contact us at info@psocratic.com for more information.

How did we conduct this research? We compiled employee data taken from the top 1,500 companies on the NYSE, and explored trends within and across major industries. The wellness score on the Y-axis is the combination of employee data covering 5 company specific themes — culture, fair pay, career path, company leadership, and work-life balance — evaluated on a 0-5 point scale. Gross profit per employee is provided in public statements and annual reports. More questions? Reach out, and we’re happy to explain more! info@psocratic.com

Be a Coach, Not a Boss: How Feedback Culture Creates Winning Teams

Art by Jake Shapiro

Art by Jake Shapiro

Increasingly, we expect our workplaces to be highly collaborative, inclusive, and laterally structured environments. No longer do we rely on end of the year reviews and traditional top-down systems to administer feedback. Instead, like good coaches, managers are now expected to provide support on a regular basis and guide and motivate employees along their personal development and career paths — a trend that will only continue as the workforce welcomes younger generations.

This coach instead of manager dynamic has been driven in large part by 21st century worker’s demands for companies to cater to personal growth and development, and social causes employees care about. Motivated, engaged, and productive employees are generally the ones continuously seeking feedback on how they are progressing both personally and professionally, but the unengaged population can benefit, too. By checking in more frequently, employees can more effectively monitor their individual, team, and company stats, and see their progress in real time. Ultimately, this increases productivity, strengthens social connections, promotes employee engagement and health, and can help attract and retain talent.

Across the board, employees are asking for more feedback; this means more manager-employee exchanges to track, structure, and monitor. But it also means more potential to generate insightful data on employee engagement and managerial effectiveness. By leveraging mobile, digital, and online communication tools, employees have the opportunity to compile insightful company stats and to hold each other accountable daily, hourly, and even in real-time.

For example, a few new-to-market technologies include:

  • Software that allows managers to gather wide-ranging feedback via employee updates to gauge performance, organizational roadblocks, and overall teamwork levels.
  • Platforms in which colleagues evaluate each other in real time with mobile or web-based apps, providing valuable information on progress and areas of improvement.
  • Spaces in which employees are invited to provide regular upward feedback on managers, coaching and direction, and company trends.
  • Self evaluation tools used to benchmark and track personal growth and development.

In effect, these new data-driven feedback systems function as both pulsometer and stat-tracker, keeping up-to-date tabs on individual, team, and management productivity relative to benchmarks. Additionally, these feedback loops can be leveraged to strategically structure teams, create strong social networks, and engage employees with transparent communication — a corporate hat-trick per se.

When our workplaces operate more like sports teams, with managers as coaches and colleagues as teammates, the social fabric of the organization also takes on a new shape. Since there is more communication, transparency, and data being shared, employees are more aware of where they fall in relation to the group and organization. The ability to see performance trends year to year, week to week, and day to day encourages all team members to improve their performance to the benefit of the entire team.

As they say, teamwork makes the team work.

Psocratic is a proactive behavioral health platform on a mission to advance workplace culture and wellness. Schedule a demo or say hello: info@psocratic.com 🙌

How VR is changing the Healthcare Landscape


Goggles are the brave shields that have taken us above the clouds, under the ocean and now — into whole new realities. The meteoric rise of VR technology is due to the sheer amount of interest and money it attracts. Venture capital firms are pouring billions of dollars into developing virtual reality technologies. Citi projects that the VR industry will grow to $15.9B by the end of 2019 while content and hardware pieces will be valued at $200B by 2020. Once the foundation for VR hardware and systems is laid, the conversation naturally turns to the content. What will compel people to buy these products?

VR is transposing traditional digital experiences into the 3D realm, and thus has some valuable, but perhaps obvious applications: video games, digital art, movies, education, etc. There is no shortage of VR startups that want to provide memorable experiences, but by and large they are creating iterations of digital experiences consumers have grown to expect.

VR can also afford much greater opportunity to creators, allowing them to superimpose and blend interactive components into a variety of unique experiences. The immersive nature of VR means that we can create both active and passive experiences. We’re seeing exciting applications for those with mobile or physical limitations, for shared experiences among groups of people, and for use within the mental health and wellness field.


VR has given chemotherapy patients the ability to take spur of the moment trips around the world as clear toxic fluids drip into their veins, reducing the burden of psychological symptoms associated with treatment. Studies show that VR experience can help mitigate combat-related PTSD and prep adolescents for major surgeries. VR is being used to simulate exposure therapy for those with stress, anxiety, and depression. Remarkably, there is even talk about reducing the use of opiates in hospitals with VR devices, a promising development at a time when pain-related addiction is devastating many of our communities.

VR is also making its way into everyday wellness spaces. Significant players like Samsung and Deepak Chopra are respectively working on guided meditation offerings for Samsung Gear consumers. Immersive meditation experiences provide a gamified solution with the potential to persuade even the most skeptical tech users to adopt these deeply enriching health experiences.

But what if VR was used to elevate experiences that don’t traditionally incorporate gamification, like the workplace? Almost two decades into the new millennium, the workplace is a vastly different place today than it was just a generation ago. Startups have championed the “perkplace”, with unlimited vacation days, daily catered lunches and even midday surf lessons. As companies look to incorporate tools for managing stress during the workday, VR may be a viable solution for filling that need.

At Psocratic, we’re working to build some of these experiences into our own product — think a VR setup in the break room for a quick escape, or teambuilding exercises that take place on Mars. The possibilities are endless and we can’t wait to see where the goggles will take us next.


Psocratic and Arcane Reality have teamed up to offer VR stress management and meditation solutions for the workplace. For more information, you can inquire about it here.

Original post by Mandi Nyambi, Special Projects at Psocratic.