Announcer: This is a radio segment from the KOGO morning news on August 23rd, 2019.
LaDona Harvey: When it comes to your career path, your family’s financial future, or even a weight loss journey, focusing on little setbacks can throw a real wrench in your progress.
Ted Garcia: Joining us on the KOGO news live, the author of, “Measures of Success. React Less, Lead Better, Improve More,” Mark Graban. Good morning, Mark.
Mark Graban: Good morning.
Ted: Why do people get tripped up on the small stuff? Is it just part of our nature?
Mark: I think it is. For people and for organizations, if we see the number on the scale every morning or let’s say we’re in a business and we get a monthly patient satisfaction score, it’s really tempting to react.
It’s important to pay attention to longer-term trends in something that you’re measuring. We need to learn how to block out the small fluctuations, some of those small changes, up a pound, down a pound and a half. It might not really be meaningful. Two data points are not a trend.
We can make better decisions. We can better evaluate the changes that we’re trying to make in our lives and in our business. One thing is just look at more data.
LaDona: What happens when we’re paying too much attention to what is, essentially, just noise, when we’re working toward that goal?
Mark: There’s a software company that I work with called KaiNexus. They were overreacting to the number of leads that they were tracking every month. I taught the CEO and the marketing director, basically, to stop spending time… She would spend an hour or two each month trying to explain a small change in a metric that was just fluctuating. Like you said, it was just noise.
She stopped overreacting. She invested more time in, basically, doing more marketing instead of explaining the number and the leads started going up. I think that’s the key. When we react less and we lead better, we often end up improving more.
Ted: How do we know when something is really worth paying attention to?
Mark: We can plot our data. Just creating a chart that shows how that metric is performing over time. Even just calculating an average, we can look and see if a metric is just fluctuating between above average and below average. That’s one visual clue that we can use to stop overreacting.
We can also use a little bit of math. I write about this in my book. We can do some simple math to calculate, basically, some guard rails around a metric. We can look and see, if that number is just fluctuating within those guard rails — our daily blood pressure reading or revenue for a business — we learn not to overreact to any of those individual data points.
If the metric goes outside of those guard rails, that’s a moment when we should say, wait a minute. Something’s changed. Let’s figure out what that is.
LaDona: What are some tools that we can use to try to keep an eye on our progress without getting too bogged down in the details?
Mark: It can be as simple as using a spreadsheet and just creating what Excel calls a line chart. Look at the data visually. You were talking about robocalls. Saying some number is up 46 percent sounds dramatic but I’m looking online here at a chart that shows the last 12 months and it looks like that number is fluctuating.
You can see that visually when you stop looking at a two-data point comparison. Just, literally, plot the data out. That will really tell you much more about performance and the direction things might be headed in.
Ted: Mark Graban, author of, Measures of Success. React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. Thank you so much for your time this morning.
Mark: Thanks for having me.