Leadership and Data – A Filtered Experience

“As organizations (and societies) grow larger and more complex, the people at the top (whether managers or analysts) depend less and less on firsthand experience, more and more on heavily “processed” data. Before reaching them, the raw data – what actually goes on “out there” – have been sampled, screened, condensed, compiled, coded, expressed in statistical form, spun into generalizations and crystallized into recommendations.” – John W. Gardner in Self Renewal: The Individual and the Innovative Society

It is a characteristic of the information processing system that it systematically filters out certain kinds of data so that these never reach the ones who depend on the system…

Agile is all about transparency. I would, and we constantly suggest to our clients, that we do our very utmost to give unfiltered views of how things are going with development, all facets of development.

This way, leadership can make the best informed decisions they can about what is really happening!

Consider what “filtered” information you’re giving to leadership. Consider how that could be doing more harm than good.

Data is only as valuable as it is “real.”

2 Replies to “Leadership and Data – A Filtered Experience”

  1. Reality is filtered – by our perceptions, biases, and the view from where we’re standing. If a data point is an outlier, calling it to management’s attention will almost certainly be counter-productive. I’m not arguing against transparency; I’m arguing in favor of adding value by reducing “all” data to “actionable” elements. Managing up requires a willingness by those closest to the action to take a stand. Gardner may not think it’s a good thing, but in a complex decision-making environment, it’s a necessary thing.

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