About a week ago my wife and I were driving around doing errands as we typically do on the weekends when we found ourselves talking about the features her car came with. The conversation went like this -
Wife: I love how my car tells me how many miles I can go before I run out of gas.
Me: You know, that's not entirely accurate since it depends on driving habits, traffic, etc.
Wife: Well if it weren't accurate, why would they show it?
Me: Because something is better than nothing right?
Wife: *a reaction similar to the below*
The Next Day
So 24 hours later I receive a call from my wife who is on the side of the road with no gas and in need of my assistance. Not so surprisingly she had tested the accuracy of the digital gas gauge on her car and it had in fact failed her. And there you have it, I was right. End of post. Just kidding, that isn’t the point of this post. I’ll continue…
After rescuing my modern damsel in distress from the fears of the freeway and the sweltering summer heat, I began to ponder this situation (as I often do) a bit further. I couldn’t help but think how similar this particular scenario relates to today’s world of business. In fact, I have experienced conversations such as the one above many times before.
Business leaders in countless conference rooms across the world are having the same conversation my wife and I had. Swap the subject of automobile alerts for business dashboards and report analytics and we’re all talking the same language.
Be honest, can you really tell me that you've never stated in a meeting, " well if these numbers are right" or "I know this isn't exact, but...."? I didn't think so.
When There Isn’t More Than What Meets the Eye
All too often we business leaders find ourselves questioning the accuracy of information directly in front of us. We assume that the advancement of technology wouldn’t fail us at this day in age but in reality there are a lot of us getting fooled by fancy displays and eye-catching interfaces. I can’t help but ask the following questions.
Why are so many organizations okay with this?
Me: Because jaw dropping visuals are pretty and promising.
Isn't there something wrong with making decisions based on incomplete or inaccurate information?
Me: Absolutely. How about reporting out inaccuracies to the SCC or losing your integrity completely.
Is it truly better than no information at all?
Me: That’s technically your call but I would say, no.
If any of the above mirrors your reality, then I suggest you demand better.
The problem here is that somewhere along the lines of the development of business dashboards and visual analytics, we got lost. Where we now have the ability to see the state of the business in a pretty pie chart, we have forgotten about the undeniable need to understand it. The latter is solely reliant on the accessibility of that information. Here is the thing; all information is stored somewhere. Whether or not we have access to it and can rely on it should be standard not ‘sometimes.’
A pilot cannot fly a plane around the world without relying on the information at hand. You as a business leader cannot make decisions to drive the business forward without the right information. Nor would you buy a good looking power tool if it didn’t actually perform. The space in which we exist is simply not sustainable. When assuming has become more standard and acceptable than accuracy it is time to reset the status quo. The catch? It starts with you.