In short, yes, we should be obsessed with data.
What are four data points that we should be obsessed with?
There’s nothing wrong with measuring data; however, does the data we measure matter? We should only measure it if it matters. It’s like jumping on a set of scales, morning, noon and night and saying, “Oh my goodness, I’m up by 500 grams.” Unless we’re going to do something about it, we shouldn’t be obsessed with it.
We have a society obsessed with data and yet not obsessed with action and actioning that data. Recently we worked with an organisation where data reporting took up 10% of the manager’s time. They were asked, “What do you do with that data?” They advised that their job was to collate and create a report with that data and provide this report to the CEO. The CEO would then action them on the data provided.
Is your organisation like that? Are you collecting too much or too little data? And then what are you doing with that data? From an organisational perspective, we should all have peak performance indicators. We should have data and we should also focus on that data, but the purpose of the data is to give you enough information to know that you need to ask more questions.
So if your EBIT (Earnings Before Interest and Taxes) is 10% and you want to increase this to 15%, the data you collect will tell ask the following questions:
A) Is it a cost issue?
B) Is staffing an issue?
C) Is supply issue?
D) Is it a systems and processes issue?
If your turnover is 50%, then look to the data to see what questions to ask:
A) Is there a cultural issue?
B) Is there a management issue?
C) Is there a client issue?
D) Is there a staffing issue?
E) Is there a location issue?
If your EBIT is 70%, then the data will point to the following questions to ask:
A) Is it about all products? Is it about one product?
B) Is it about a specific person? Is it about a specific project manager?
Data tells you that there’s an issue. You then can ask questions to find solutions and then implement solutions. You will always have the same problem every month by ignoring the data, and you will never be able to answer the question.
It’s like jumping on the scales, breakfast, lunch and dinner that we mentioned before. Far too much looking at data and then doing nothing with it. If you jump on the scales in January and you are 70 kilos. Then each month, when you weigh yourself again, you find you have gained 5kg a month until, by the end of June, you have hit 100kg.
So now you have your data, the question is, what are you doing with it?
If you’re bulking up to go into a superman, bench pressing, weightlifting competition, the data probably tells you that you’re on the right track. However, if you’re not, the data tells you something different.
What are the seven things that the entire organisation measures and that they should be committed to achieving?
1) What is the customer satisfaction goal?
2) What is the staff turnover goal?
3) What is the profit goal?
4) What is the systems and processes or maybe EBIT goal?
5) What is the corporate social responsibility goal?
6) What big picture goals are you working towards?
7) And then the final question – what are we doing about them?
Having data promotes team-building. It can help the company work together against the one goal, as one team. You will all be going in one direction, with one vision, strategy, and high-performing organisational outcome.
We were recently working with an organisation that had too many goals. We took those goals, and then with the data collected, we also organised monthly team meetings to discuss the questions that the data provided. The result is that the entire organisation is now more aware of the data. Everyone in the organisation now understands what the data means, and they start to think proactively and take action. And the activities and outcomes of increasing productivity, performance and profitability is now the positive result of the entire organisation rather than just one person.