As we come close to end of January, many nations around the world and organizations are busy diving deep into the number game! For some or the other reasons these numbers communicate and convey what their masters want them to say and no matter what you think, they never really add up! Join me for a short walk through this space and decode why the world embraces this number and data driven craze and what is that you and I must guard against and be wise enough to see beyond what the numbers portray!
To begin with let me share some statements with you, I got a 100% increase on reader engagement, I have a strike rate of 99% to finish articles and I write them; now let me add two additional information, first I have only 10 readers and I write only one article per year! Now what happens to your understanding and appreciation about me- am I effective or ineffective? Struggling or Great? Well, this is what the reality and truth of the world of numbers and data sets is, all the time, everywhere people are almost always presented with what will empower decisions to be driven in a particular way to conform to some needed outcome and as long as that happens, governments stay, CEOs can relax on their chairs and societies can keep doing what they do, but when the numbers and facts begin to stand out on the basis of what they are without any shadows around them, reality ushers in and people begin to get a taste of an oncoming reset and realignment of priorities! But why does this happen? Why do people get discreet and secretive with numbers and data? Why is it almost always shared on a need to know basis and never- rarely- in a comprehensive and holistic way? Well read on!
Part of the answer to the trickery involved in sharing numbers and data resides in the core values, strife, struggle of the bygone and the promise of the future and what path has been embraced to achieve the same! Say, you are a nation sure enough you may never want to- you will not and should never have to- share intricate details pertaining to your armed forces and preparedness as a nation- thats perfectly sane and when it comes to elements and sensitive data points like these, nations, societies, organizations guard them with all that they have! But when the guarding and distorting commences for all that is available in public domain, it sets the tone for competing analysis, conflicting inferences and a more confused decision making- courtesy- the conflicting data points and numbers which seem to have a mind of their own!
This happens all the time, sales targets are revised upwards with no or limited rationale, under the garb of operational efficiency and optimization, resources and people are driven to work and perform right upto their breaking point! Business have one number for the government ( to ensure their tax optimization is achieved) and one for the workers and yet another one for the investors! It is this space of conflicting objectives done simultaneously that creates a mirage of information which seems true all the time- depending upon who you are and what you are searching in that number maze! The reality, sure enough resides hidden away somewhere around and within that universe of staged appearances and narratives and this is what becomes the foundation for entities to either rise high (when their compelling cause is wise and just and sink deep when they are on a trajectory of self-destruction, already passed the stage of repair! So what’s the sane way to deal with this space and is there anything that you and I can do around this?
Well, the only real and meaningful way to deal with the number and data maze that keeps coming your way endlessly is by being pragmatic and being able to apply what is coming your way to the contexts that mean to you, even as you appreciate the contexts in which they were recorded! You see, like my first example a 100% increase in readership will have meaning and efficacy only when the numbers that go on to reflect that percentage are sizable and meaningful in the ocean of readership data! Sure enough nations, companies and agencies have their pressing compulsions to do what they do with the numbers that the have access to, but the ability to gauge and see what is not been shared, is where your intelligence and prudence comes to play and the more better you get at that bit, the higher are your chances to excel and surge ahead!
When governments, experts and organizations play with numbers to avoid chaos in the society, that is understandable, but when these data points are selectively played out and represented in a manner to benefit a few sometimes and yet few others all the time, things start to get undone and this is where mistrust and gross disregard for any sort of metric begins to manifest! Once this stage is arrived at, even the most well managed aspects of a society can come crashing down. What’s more worrying is the fact that when the big corporate world steps in to create compelling narratives on the bed rock of staged data sets by the governments, it takes the whole society on a joy ride to no real destination and this is what manifests as companies go bust and as markets crash every now and then!
Even as all this is unfolding, it is always worthwhile to remember that, there may or may note be a compelling need to cheat to trick per say, but when an intent to trick is set, things really begin to get awkward and chaotic, eventually the only way that they are controlled is by allowing them to run their race, fizzle out and diminish! No data set or number story has ever been complete or whole and there are good reasons for that to be that way, there are reasons too for stories to go the other way; what really matters is your ability to decipher this fluid nature of numbers and data points and appreciate that no matter how well you control or manage what you do, given the interconnected world that we all are a part of, there is very little real and meaningful control that you can exercise to be sure that numbers will always stand by you or your aspirations!
No matter what you do, and how much power you wield the numbers and data sets that wrap up around you, are the only ones’ that you get to play with and as long as you are alert, prudent and wise with regards to dealing with them, you will be covered! The moment you stretch or flex beyond what is manageable, things will begin to unravel and all the data and numbers that the world need not see, will end up getting spread to create even more challenges even for your tomorrow, than the ones’ you probably face in your now! Every segment of a society will have a contextually valid reason to assert and vouch for the data that drives their narrative and no matter what anyone else says or not, nothing will ever be accepted or paid heed to! The only way to work with numbers and data to ensure they at least seem to be agreeing upon something, is by creating pathways and mid-ways for converging divergent observations and summarize narratives withing permissible and meaningful margins of variance!
Individuals and businesses that are successful and resilient often are so because they have also been able to decode this crucial number game alongside building up and exceling at their competence in what they choose to do! Numbers and data, by themselves are never inaccurate, it is how they are actioned upon and inferred upon that either goes on to make them more potent or a piece of crap!
I leave you with these thoughts here, urging you to practise the pause as and when you immerse into the numbers and the data that comes your way, so that you are able to not only see what is shown but also what is hidden within and not visible at first sight!
Ciao for now, will be back soon with another one soon! Until then stay safe and yes, keep crunching those numbers and data set, but ensure that all what you do stays, relevant, meaningful and directed in the contexts that come wrapped along with them!