Or for instance, it’s common to hear businesses touting profits, margins, team sizes, and the amount of complaints they squashed over a given month. We’re trained to think that higher numbers equate to success. But are people happy in their jobs? Do they feel like they are contributors to success and that they have value? Are they given the freedom to contribute to the team and solve problems? Or are they tied up by budgets and hours and mindlessly completing X items on the list?
Regardless of what the numbers say, do we feel like things are getting better? A metric can go up 0.5% or down 0.85%, but if we can’t see the difference by being in a situation, how much does it really matter? Do we simply acknowledge the minor “improvement” and hope that this will be a long-term trend that we will benefit from in the next century, or do we continue to try new things that help us feel better? Forecasting and trends are simply projections, not reality. At the end of the day, do we believe we’re moving in the right direction? How do we get more people to work towards the same goal? If our political and economical climates are of any indication, data certainly hasn’t unified us. Maybe it’s time to focus on how we’re feeling and what we want to do about it.
What if we focused more on what we need to do, and less on the minutia of why the data says we should? In the end, it’s not the numbers that matter—it’s what we need to do because of the factors they’re counting. Numbers are only so useful in their ability to measure, organize, and provide metrics. It’s up to us to figure out what do with that information, and no number will ever do that work for us.