Finding solutions and creating plans to implement them should be based on data wherever possible. A major problem, though, is that some people don’t get the facts right, or even worse, just don’t like – and thus ignore – the facts.
The first step in getting data right is to look at how data is defined. Not the actual word data, but the data you use and report in your organization. Ensuring that what you want to see data-wise is clearly defined, documented, and communicated to the people responsible for generating it, is key to getting the right and most useful information.
A second important component is to make sure your facts are accurate. Establish baselines by reviewing historical data for what you wish to track. From your baselines, measure current and short-term future performance, adjusting course where necessary. Once you’re certain your data is accurate, you can begin to trust it for decision-making.
The third component is to confront the brutal reality. I’ve discussed this one in previous posts, but the basic idea is that you start with the facts and data as they actually are. You don’t have to like that reality, but you must start there. In fact, not liking that reality is often a strong motivator to make necessary changes within the business. Don’t shy away from the ugly truths; confront them head-on and use them as fuel to move important visions, goals, and strategies forward.
Unfortunately, facts and data are critical elements of managing a business and making good decisions. Making sure you have the tools and systems to get data quickly, easily, and accurately, and that you are accepting what you find with an open, motivated mind, will put you far ahead of those unwilling or unable to do the same.
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