When I clicked on a BBC article entitled How to succeed in business by doing nothing I was (somewhat optimistically) hoping for an endorsement of masterful inactivity. That’s not what the article is about, however, but what writer Michael Blastland has to say is a lot more interesting.
Essentially, the article is about the myth of the dynamic leader and the way in which this blinds people to the fact that some random variation is always present in any system. The conclusion that he draws is that, in responding to every immediate event rather than looking for the trend, people can take a temporary blip and turn it into a disaster.
The paragraph that leapt out at me, though, is this one:
It’s for this reason that the fashion for corporate dashboards displaying up-to-the-minute information about company performance makes me wonder – will bosses everywhere be staring at the numbers, twitching with every down, feeling the pulse race with every up, on the phone demanding action with every flicker on the dial?
I have seen cases of leadership teams requesting huge amounts of low level data (even the ability to drill down to individual transactions in one case). And, when I look at the flood of operational data being hosed into management reports, it is painfully obvious that any useful information is being lost in the noise of the raw data.
Just because data is available, it doesn’t follow that it is useful. And when you show me a leader demanding every bit of data he can lay his hands on, I will show you a leader who doesn’t know what he’s doing.