Something you may not know about me is that I used to be a clinical researcher. I used to spend a lot of time looking at a lot of data. And even as a leader and manager, I looked at a lot of data. I found some of it helpful, a little of it telling, but mostly I found it a distraction from my real work: developing my leaders.
I can’t tell you how many leaders I know who live and die by the spreadsheet. And worse, how many of those leaders are convinced that spending hours and hours of their energy looking at rows and rows of data is the key to running their business.
First of all, metrics are created by behaviors. That’s right, behaviors. So if you already know the key metrics of your business, then you should be spending your time coaching the behaviors that support that metric.
Second, it is never just one behavior; it is usually a plethora of them. Which means that there is not one metric that can capture every single behavior needed to be successful in business. Outcomes are much more complicated than that. And attempting to “drill down” to find the one thing that will change a metric offers very limited returns. Especially if that drilling down costs time and energy that you could be using to coach your team.
Third, by the time you see the information, you’re playing catch up. Even the most “real-time” systems I’ve seen in business aren’t that real-time. And even if the data could be produced in real-time, guess what? You still have to go after the behaviors that are creating it in the first place.
Moral of the story? All roads lead back to developing your leaders – data or no data.