Thoughts on entrepreneurship, startups, and tech.


Eyes Off The Data, Look Around You To Grow Your Business

You know why there are still pilots in planes? Because of all the unforeseen, unexpected and unimaginable things that can happen particularly around crowded airports and dense fly through zones. Same thing goes for surgeons, downrange military personnel and judges, all these types of occupations involve skill, experience and clairvoyance and cannot be replaced by robots of any sort. Why? Because each of them requires a high level of fact-based preparation, applying rehearsed gestures and an uncommon focus but more than all those combined, the aptitude to view the big picture and take appropriate initiative. The parallel between these jobs and your’s of running a startup or SMB is straightforward; take your eyes off (out of) the data and look around you.

Durable businesses need more than people just measuring and analysing information, they need people to be aware of their situation and surroundings and more often than not, react with initiative instead of just executing simple and overly rehearsed procedures.

Today’s over-reliance on electronics and an increasing number of data sets can be overwhelming even for those that designed them, yet alone the people that are supposed to use them every day. As a result, people are spending an increasing amount of time in front of screens and keyboards maintaining and interpreting (or attempting to) more and more information and forgetting to use their other senses. As with any evolution, the cost is taking its toll on the “emotional” skills that are the basis of any human relation and, business.

We’ve all been faced with the dilemma; we’re face to face with someone who is not using their judgement, experience and empathy and is solely applying a procedure that has been hard wired into their brains — often using medieval practices of threat and punishment — and you’re stuck in a standoff. What we get is a sorrowful experience if not an outright scandal which if you take the time to analyse is totally the opposite of what Senior Management is saying and trying to achieve through their brand and their company's mantra.

How did they get there? By looking at their business exclusively through their data.

An architect once told me a story that has stayed with me for years. He spent a good deal of his professional time teaching, on top of his day to day activities at his office, and he described to me the final words of advice he gave to each graduating class. He said “You’re all leaving here today with a great deal of skills and knowhow and are looking forward to changing the way the world evolves around you but you’re probably forgetting the one thing you had before you even came here, the only skill no one has any influence over in your growing years and the one that none of the faculty has been able to enhance — your eyes. When you walk out of here, are out with friends and family, running errands or just commuting — look around you, change your path, try and get a new perspective every time you move — it’s what you see and how you see it that are you’re greatest skills”. (Jean-Claude.L)

I humbly would take this a step further and add hearing, touch and even smell because they add dimensions to these wise words. The point being, if you’re only looking at spreadsheets and the staggering variety of analytical & dashboard apps around today to manage your business, you’re missing out on some key findings that will probably guide your business better than the pixels in front of you.