Seth Godin’s post from a couple of days ago (Precision and Accuracy) got me thinking, again, on the topic of measurement errors in organisations.

Seth’s quick way of differentiating between precision and accuracy (also a statistical term?) is thus:

Precision is granularity of measurement.  Accuracy is about describing how we’re doing what we intended to do.

You can drive in the wrong direction at precisely 54.3kmph

The last few months, I’ve observed an obsession with precision. Armies of analysts (reduced significantly through retrenchments) continue to pore over minute differences in metrics. Assuming or sometimes being explicitly told that precision is crucial, and every number counts (pun intended). The ship might need to turn shortly but everyone keeping the engines going can’t hear the captain’s orders over the din.

What would it be like, if the captain/s actually went down to the folks in the engine room and asked them what was happening down there? Do they still have the tools to keep the engine going? Do they know and realise why they’ve being asked to “do more with less”? That they may have to change heading pretty soon and may need to learn completely new skills?

Leverage, my friend A keeps saying. And despite the leverage of so many great and wonderful minds, few captains of industry seem to know what to do.


I may be down with a temperature and rambling on, but write I will 🙂