How to be bored
- Take a performance report.
- Get the data out of those damn tables and silly bar graphs.
- Stick it in a run chart, or a control chart, s’up to you.
- Look for any actual change over the course of the whole time period.
Whenever I get my hands on data, a rare occurrence for a performance person, I’ve found 90% of the time there has not been any real change. That over the whole time period nothing happened. Booger all. Sweet FA.
You might find something like this…
These are the standard run chart rules to check for one consistent unchanged process…
Applying these tests to the chart above what do we find?
No exciting shifts or trends.
Over 3 years!
Managers and strategic leaders DO do stuff over this time period, but because they’re human beings, they react to things that are special and new and distinct, or at least LOOK special new and distinct. They see signal where there is just noise.
If this week’s performance number is lower than last weeks performance number, then look at this week and find out what’s different about it. And probably this will result in some kind of shouting at somebody. Either way, the focus will be on the special, the one-off, the peak, the low-point, the very latest. The focus will be on….
Or they might focus on the outstanding features to the eye….
Either way, they’re looking at where their eye drags them. They are eyeballing data.
Using the eye for analysing data is as bad as using the gut, another mis-used body part often used for feeling or reacting instead of it’s evolved function of producing faeces. The irony.
Instead there is another useful body part just dying to get involved in decision making and data analysis, the brain. Once equipped with the more accurate mental models of how the world works and the necessary tools to apply them, the brain will look at something else…
This means instead of looking at the latest data point or the sharpest looking peak, you look at what the actual whole process is doing. Cos, as the cliche goes, it’s perfectly designed to get the results it is getting. Especially if all there is to look at IS the boring old up and down of common cause variation.
Looking at the common cause variation in the process will mean they devise a common cause solution.
Looking at imaginary special causes leads to special cause solutions, and special cause solutions in a common cause world are just tampering. No change results, just fiddling round, wasting opportunity. At best just increasing the common cause variation. But without the mental models or tools to support them, the increase in common cause variation will go unnoticed by everybody but the customers who experience it.
This is why control charts are soooo boooorrring. They show up the futility of acting without knowledge, over and over again, world without end.