Most of the world will make decisions by either guessing or using their gut. They will be either lucky or wrong.— Suhail Doshi, CEO, Mixpanel

The waterfall we overlooked was spectacular. The sound of the water was powerful as it rushed its way over multiple barriers to its destination in the lake. The only encouragement the water needed was gravity.

Many organizations composed of knowledge workers struggle with getting their teams to collect meaningful data. This struggle can often be overcome if leadership takes steps first to establish the gravity that will attract the data they need.

  1. Define goals that are valuable to your organization. For instance, many organizations value their ability to make commitments they can keep. Do the most critical projects to the organization deliver to the dates you expect?
    One of the first measures you can track is the data to answer that question.
  2. Understand what decisions you need to make to achieve your goals. The following are two example decisions for which detailed data would be helpful.
    • Which projects should be funded?  The ability to make good estimates is valuable in selecting which projects to fund.  Collecting data about the accuracy of your estimates would be very helpful to the decision making process.
    • When will a project be finished?  Data that helps predict the completion of in-motion projects is helpful. This allows you to make mid-course adjustments and finish on time. You will also know when you can get those next projects started.

    3. Ask for help in collecting the data you need. 
    Knowledge workers do not enjoy being asked to collect data that is not meaningful. Enlist their help in achieving the goals. Ask for their help in defining the data and in deciding how best to make use of it.

Successfully doing these steps will create the gravity you need.  You will empower the teams to figure out ways to overcome the obstacles and to fill your lake with data that is useful and used.

Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,

Alan Willett
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