Daily crises, intractable issues or just the hectic pace of change make it hard for leaders to step back and gain perspective. All too often this means they miss the big picture or the patterns in the myriad of data coming at them. I often talk with leaders about having the right indicators so we see the necessary information and are able discern the patterns we should act upon. On a car’s dashboard there are three levels of data:
- Real-time – Information we need to track as they happen, such as speed and gas level
- Warning lights – Indicators that alert us when certain parameters are breached, such as low tire pressure
- OBD – Onboard Diagnostics, available by hooking a computer into the underside of the dash to access details about error codes and problems
Leaders need these three levels of data. It is vital to focus on the small number of indicators we track real time, have good parameters set for our warning lights and know when more extensive diagnostics are needed. At the end of the day, we need to know where to find the details, however don’t need to bog ourselves down with them. If you’re in the weeds as a leader, you won’t be able to devote the necessary time to detecting patterns, asking the right questions and enabling your people to address issues.
Surprise problems should be a very rare thing. If you are often astounded by failures or problems, this may be because you don’t have the right indicators or are not paying attention to them. Knowing where to focus your attention and basing decisions on the patterns within the information are key to your success as a leader. For an example of pattern recognition, check out this this video.
Are you tracking patterns and indicators so you can make the right proactive decisions? Comment below or message us.