Stop Checking The Gas Tank Every 15 Miles
Dashboards, metrics, and KPI’s are incredibly valuable tools for managing your business. But there can be too much of a good thing. It’s possible for leaders to spend more time collecting, reviewing, and adjusting data on spreadsheets than taking action to improve and grow their business. There is a diminishing return to this kind of obsessive analysis. It’s akin to stopping to check the gas tank every 15 miles.
Psychologist Paul Slovic illustrated this in a study evaluating the effect of information on decision making. He gathered eight professional horse racing handicappers to see what effect data had on how well they predicted the winners. His test subjects were all seasoned pros who made a healthy living solely on gambling skills. Each of them would predict the winners of 40 races in 4 consecutive rounds. In the first round, each gambler could receive any 5 pieces of information they wanted on each horse. One gambler might want to know a jockey’s years of experience as one of his top variables, while another might want to know the fastest top speed recorded for each horse. After picking 5 pieces of data, each handicapper would then submit two things: their race predictions and their level of confidence in those predictions. In round one, the group was only 17% accurate on predictions and 19% confident.
In each progressive round of the study, the handicappers could increase the amount of information they received for in-depth analysis. In round two, they picked 10 pieces of information. Round 3, 20 pieces. Round 4, 40.
A Slice of Life Balance
Take advantage of the chance to spend some time outdoors this summer. Most of us spend a lot of time inside buildings, looking at screens of one kind or another. But being outside, whether at the ocean, a lake, mountains, or even the green space of a city park, gives us the opportunity to take in the fresh air and gain some perspective. There are hundreds of studies on how getting outside helps us with everything from improving immune function, boosting creativity, reducing the likelihood of depression, and even this one suggesting improved memory and cognitive function. However, you choose to do it, spend some time outside.
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