I see the data. Well, I don’t really see the data. I see the data compiled as information. In this case, the information is expressed in terms of tables and diagrams. Stacks. Lines. Circles. They are many. They are colorful. I can interpret them individually. I see how different elements are connected to each other. But they don’t talk to me. Neither individually nor as a group. It’s completely silent, and nothing happens inside of me.
Although I don't have IQ > 130, I would consider myself pretty smart. Okay, average. No, I'm not open to coaching on that right now. Admittedly, numbers have never been my thing. I like letters much better. There are those who say that if you are musical, you are good at numbers. I'm good at playing piano. That's where it stays.
But, unlike many others who are members of management teams, I dare to ask. Ask what things mean – CCC, COGS, EVA, OCF, OER, ROA, ROE, etc. – and how to calculate the same, if I must. Hopefully not. There are others who are better at it. But understanding is important. This while others sit and nod as if they understand. Think how easy it would be to trap someone, given that many don’t even know the difference between turnover and revenue. But, why should I? I'm not like that. But I'm the guy who thinks it's important that everyone speaks the same language in the every two weeks key performance indicator breeze.
If data could talk, how does it sound?
If data could talk, how does it sound? I’m thinking about a 1.200 baud modem. Do you remember connections from hotel rooms, when you were abroad? Unscrew the cover on the wall-mounted telephone jack. Connect the modem with crocodile clips – a given thing in the survival kit. The hotel maid must have wondered if I worked for MI6 or something. Those were days.
I'm not going to have my ear against the computer screen. It's not that I'm afraid of electrical allergies. But I expect that while I rest my eyes on my dashboard, that's where I "hear" the story. A story that comes to me. A story that captures me. A story that entertains me. A story that’s easy to follow, from beginning to end. It’s a story that I can look at over and over again. And every time I look at it the story has reached a new contemporary level.
Here is a storyline I would like to see, without even have to think.
So, my dear laptop and the application developers behind. Here is a storyline I would like to see, without even have to think. Then I’m ready to talk about smart decision-making.
What have you found and what patterns do you see? Of course, I also want predictions about the future. Do not even ask. Include competition comparisons and market trends in the analysis as well. I will upload our SWOT and PESTLE later on, so you can crunch that also. I will upload the whole strategy. Word or PowerPoint? Why not?
What is this all about, really? How would you sum it up? Keep in mind that I'm short of time. Don’t show me the details. You have also always wondered about the remarkable people who wants an executive summary. We're there now.
3. Possible solutions
In what ways could we get the business on track, or just continue to growth? The easy way is far from the right way. Give me suggestions that really make a difference. Keep in mind that our long-term strategy is short-term profitability. I miss my old chairman who imprinted that in my head.
Take a bite. I'll throw you more beef.
What effects would the different solutions have? How is our market, financial, structural and human capital affected? Show impact on customers, sales, deliveries and products. Take a bite. I'll throw you more beef.
What are the risks of the possible solutions? How will they effect customer satisfaction; project profitability; recruitments and resignments; product profitability; revenues and costs? You don't have to be particularly afraid to come up with a lot of things that are risky business.
What's the best solution based on our goals and strategies? Which button do you want me to push? Yes, you're a machine. But I have a human factor, and we’re not much better ourselves. And this is not the button in the nuclear football.
How's it going right now? What has been achieved last week? What is the forecast for the coming week/month/quarter/year? Compare that with the management representatives oral commitments – about their coming achievements – at the last management meeting, and I'll eat that football.
There are no bad narrators, only bad numbers.
I'm at the campfire, if you want to come and tell your data story. And you know what: There are no bad narrators, only bad numbers.
Magnus Särnevång is a Senior Business Consultant at Stratiteq