Josh is a sales assistant at a sports store in the city. He proactively solves customer’s problems while they browse, taking the time to answer questions about the equipment they’re considering buying. If one of those interactions results in a sale Josh adds a new barcode containing his employee ID to the product. This is how Josh’s performance is tracked.
Every sales assistant then is only as good as the number of sales he can prove he’s facilitated. This is the performance metric the store manager pays attention to because it’s the thing she can easily measure. Josh can spend twenty minutes with a shopper exchanging valuable information about golf clubs. This might result in a sale next week or an online purchase at a later date. Josh’s efforts will likely go unnoticed and unacknowledged by management.
An uptick in a metric of any kind can feel like progress which of course is fun to measure, but much of what adds value to our businesses (lives, families, and cultures too) is intangible. When we limit ourselves to believing that hard data tells the whole story we’re missing opportunities to improve those things we can’t put a number on.
Just because data is easy to collect doesn’t mean it’s the thing that’s worth measuring. It’s important to question exactly how the data we gather is helping us to achieve our goals before obsessing over what the numbers look like.
Image by Antoine Robiez.