Art? Science?

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“Measurement is fabulous.  Unless you’re busy measuring what’s easy to measure as opposed to what’s important.”

–  Seth Godin (b. 1960), American author, speaker, and a danged genius who makes me better every day

“If you can not measure it, you can not improve it.”

–  Lord Kelvin, aka William Thomson (1824 – 1907), Irish mathematical physicist and engineer for whom the absolute temperature scale was named

Two smart guys featured today.  One is absolutely right.  The other is absolutely wrong.  Any guesses as to which is which?

Of course we can improve it even if we can’t measure it.  Attitude, curiosity, team dynamic — those are just three examples.  The greater risk isn’t trying to measure those intangibles, the greater risk is in sacrificing them at the expense of stuff that’s easier to measure but far less important.

Earlier in my career, on the day I earned a promotion, the president of the business unit told me, “Job #1 is to fire Person A, and Job #2 is to fire Person B.”  He was confident those steps had to be taken, because of what had historically been measured.  When I sat down with the team and heard what A and B were bringing to the table (during a time of seismic shifts in the market we served), I realized that firing A and B would be a major mistake.  A and B were bringing the voice of the market to the table, even if some didn’t want to hear or consider that voice.  We didn’t fire them, and my boss ultimately agreed with the call not to fire them.  “A” went on to be the top producer in the company for several years and “B” sold the biggest single deal in the company’s history shortly after not being fired.    

One of the great debates in business is whether sales (in particular) and leadership (in general) are more art or science.  I’m not sure it matters whether they’re more art or science.  What matters is that they’re both art and science!

Defining what’s really important is the first job of leadership.  If that’s “growth” we need to define that it’s “growth, defined by _________.”  Revenue?  Profits?  Market share?  Client loyalty?  All of the above?  Several of the above?  If several, which ones and in what order or priority?

Once we’ve defined what is important, it’s easier to decide what to measure.  Once we’ve defined what is important, it’s easier to deploy the REELAX Model — actually, it’s dang near impossible to succeed at any pursuit until we’ve defined what’s important!

It is rare that I offer three quotes, but here goes!

“Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted, counts.”

–  Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955), who is every bit as right as Seth is on this topic!

 

Here’s more on the topic, from a 2016 post that also references Seth Godin…


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