Big Data is a Big Distraction
Like a drunk on a bender, the driver in the truck ahead of me was swerving as he buried his head in his smartphone. It was a classic case study in the dangers of distraction and why this is often compared to driving while intoxicated. In its own way, the allure of the words and pictures on those touchscreens have an intoxicating effect, drawing people in and diverting attention from navigating a ton of metal, plastic, and glass.
The roadways are not the only place where people are under the influence. From the C-Suite to middle management, millions of leaders are intoxicated with data as they attempt to manage voluminous amounts of statistics, emails, and documents. Instead of giving their full attention to employees, customers, projects, or issues at hand, these individuals often think they are highly adept at managing all of this information along with their primary responsibilities. However, they are just as dangerous as the texter that was in front of me. The employees are neglected, customers end up only partially served, work on projects is good but could be better, and issues to be resolved are often incompletely addressed.
Just because we can track anything and everything doesn’t mean we should. Rather, there are always several key indicators that provide the insights we need. For example, Simon, one of the sales leaders I coach, now limits what he regularly monitors to three things: the number of active customers currently buying, the volume of prospects in the pipeline, and the closure percentage of these prospects. If any of these areas begins to change, he then, and only then, delves into more details that are automatically tracked by his sales system. “I’m more on top of things than ever,” said Simon in a recent conversation, “Yet, I’ve reduced my time spent reviewing data by three to four hours each week.”
Drivers of vehicles must focus on what matters most, driving, in order to keep those around them safe and the same goes for businesspeople at all levels. Big data is highly overrated, especially when compared with critical business functions. Most of you reading this would never interact with a client or work on an important project after downing a few cocktails. Nor should any of us allow ourselves to become drunk by data.
This Week’s Radical Accountability Activating Action: While it’s okay to allow your automated systems to continue tracking many areas of your business, limit your review to no more than three key indicators. When you begin to see variations, then and only then spend time reviewing additional details that relate to those measurements.
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