Learning Lessons from Lessons Learned


By Pablo Zarbo



Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.

Aldous Huxley

A learning story

During the last decade of last century, many companies had available a vast amount of transactions made by customers at their premises: what items they bought, how often, what days are best sold some products, etc. From these data, the companies obtained a large amount of information used in their marketing campaigns and communications with customers.

These data were stored in huge databases called Datawarehouses.

At that time, Walmart, one of the largest retailers in the world, had the largest data datawarehouse known. But they decided to go beyond in the use of the data, and explored what they never knew they did not know. Walmart began to use algorithms of massive exploitation of data. This form of data manipulation was known as Data Mining for its similarity to the mining, processing vast amounts of material for small items, but very valuable.

They got many revelations.  For example, they found that a high percentage of people who bought diapers also bought… beer.  This information had not surfaced in any focus group, or customer surveys.

The lessons learned have the same dynamics as the previous story, they explore what we don’t know we ignore.

And therein lies its richness.


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About the Author

Pablo Zarbo

Pablo Zarbo is founder of Impala Risk, a company dedicated to consulting and executive training in project management, risk and application of tools.  He is the creator of project risk simulator to apply Monte Carlo simulation on MS Project.  Pablo teaches graduate courses at the Universidad Austral in Project & Risk Management and applying tools.

He served as Senior Project Manager on global & regional IT projects at Telefónica Group companies.  He has exhibited at meetings of members of PMI Chapter Buenos Aires and published articles in various media (e-PMI Latin Link, blogs and sites related to Project Management and Risk Management in Projects).  Pablo Zarbo can be contactected at [email protected]