You're Not Listening To Me

My wife and I are very different.

In a loud environment I can focus on a task at hand without being distracted by all the background noise.  I have a very difficult time following a conversation in a loud room.  It might be the years of playing live music or being in a mortar platoon in the military, or it may just be an inability to focus on words and conversation when there is a sound overload.

My wife, on the other hand, can hear an intimate conversation three tables away in a noisy restaurant.

In either situation, it might just be a choice of focus.

I have a simple rule I share with my wife and my team.  "If I'm not looking at you, don't assume I'm listening."

I mentioned this because I see a similarity in the way companies choose to run their businesses.

Since I started Grasp, over 25 years ago, I have noticed a significant change in how businesses use information to make decisions.

When I started, there were only a few data points used to guide a business.  Today there are millions. 

I work with thousands of businesses, and I see the same problem every day. Unfortunately, the data points they choose to focus on are not the data points they should be listening to.

Data is often passed from one decision-maker to another with subtle changes and shifts along the way. And then it gets passed to yet another person.  It reminds me of when we were kids and played “telephone.”  You tell the person next to you a specific phrase and that person tells the next person and so on and so on, and by the end of the circle the expression is entirely different.

A company is not the image of a single leader.  At Grasp Technologies we have a leadership team. Many other groups drive this leadership team. When we decide on data we're going to use to measure success, it comes from the bottom up and from the top down.  We do this so that we have alignment in both directions.

We all collectively validate what we're measuring supports and impacts the outcomes we are looking to achieve.

We frequently revalidate our assumptions and question the results to ensure that the data we are monitoring leads us to make the right decisions, and produce the correct outcomes.

Our data and measurement process can seem complicated on the surface, but it's quite simple at its core.

The art of the science of data is that it's not a fixed point, but fluid and ever-changing. So what you measured yesterday is not necessarily what you need to know tomorrow. The simplicity of this fact is in the acceptance that things change, assumptions can be wrong, but your confidence is that the data never lies. 

You just have to make sure you're listening to the right conversation at the right time.