Arithmetic and beyond: some terminology and definitions for what managers can quantify

A number is a digit – “Ten is larger than eight.”

A digit used as an adjective becomes datum: “We have ten cases.”

Data presented to make a larger point than mere enumeration become a metric: “The ten cases pending is lower than the volume we typically face” (See my post of Sept. 25, 2006 on net score analyses; March 25, 2005 on weighting client satisfaction scores; and March 12, 2006 and Dec. 31, 2006 on nominal versus inflation-adjusted figures.).

Similar metrics from several sources that are used to make comparisons are known as benchmarks. “We are above the median with 35 cases per lawyer.”

Metrics described by their distributions and probabilities are statistics: “The likelihood of a case costing more than $1 million next year is 20%.” Many statistical analyses can give insights to law department managers (See my posts of Jan. 20, 2007 and Nov. 13, 2006 for various kinds of statistical calculations for in-house lawyers.).

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