My problem comes when there is such an acute focus on statistics that we are paralyzed and cannot move forward without proper validation.
This Gaping Void cartoon has my favorite lime green character delivering a "big" message. We don't know the topic, but the little blue cat is questioning whether his research included enough of a sample.
In my consulting career I have worked with organizations that spent so much money and time on research that they never actually did anything. Don't let yourself get caught in that trap.
Make sure that you know the top 3 drivers in your business and measure those. The buzz word of the day is KPI (key performance indicators). Figure out what each percentage point is worth (e.g. if you are up or down 10%). Celebrate when you are up and take a hard look at the reasons if you are down. Have an action plan in place if your basic metrics have a significant variation from what you expected.
Also ask your customers (or potential customers) for feedback. The ones that will know if what you are hearing is significant are your front line - your sales people, your service people.
Listen and don't get hung up in numbers.
Remember, 67% of all statistics are false. ;)
Stay tuned for the letter T. We are in the home stretch.