Tuesday, January 27, 2004

To measure or not to measure

Last week, my colleague Deanna and I sat down to map out a modified process we use in our sales function. Nothing magic about that. What was useful, though, was the use of metrics. Which taught me something afresh.

Rather than merely mapping the flow of value, we also put in the current rates of processing at the various stages. Rather than assuming we knew what the correct values were, we collected real data from recent history. Rather than assuming it would happen because we "deemed it so," we took a worse-case point of view and asked what the "awfulest" outcome would be.

In short, we tried to document reality. And even attempt to measure it somehow.

It was a bit shocking, as reality often is. We were missing targets by almost half. Why? Because our gut-feel was, upon examination, two times too optimistic.

Shaking off the shock, we then recalculated. New assumptions. New numbers. A new set of metrics to hit. A new-state map.

The point is this; we too easily allow our assumptions to not be quantified. The fact that we can't be exact leads us to the sloppiness of ignoring even educated guesses. In this case, the accumulated assumptions could have lead us to a set of very bad decisions. This one is on-going, I'll keep you posted on what comes of it.

I hope this is helpful. And, I apologize for the low level of blogging recently...lots of good stuff going on but little time to write!

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