The value of smart data is a must for all industries and sectors of our economy. Of course, we all want our data to reveal high performance, but that is not always the case. Every company, non-profit agency or volunteer organization also has data that reveals under-performance. Simply, under-performance to expectation, happens.


How organizational leaders and stakeholders handle under-performing data moves them toward or away from the change they seek. For example, mediocre tribes do what they can to shield themselves from the realities of under-performing data. They become masters of excuse-making and blame. While solution-creating tribes face and utilize under-performing data to discover breakdowns in systems, process and behaviors.


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Here is a simple process that can help you discover where to aim energy and resources in order to turn under-performance (and under-performing data) around.


  1. Isolate the variables (in the data) you can influence

If sales were down last month, the “big storm that came through” is not a variable you can change. So don’t focus on it. Instead, you might want to isolate out your sales process, or customer experience woes, or a number of other controllable actions. Solution-making tribes don’t waste time on what they can’t control. They focus on what they can change.


2. Evaluate the variables you isolated with three questions

  1. Is the system, process or behavior still sound and a necessary part of our strategy?
  2. If yes to number one, then are we consistently executing it with excellence?
  3. If no to number one, then how must we adapt it?


3.  Reaffirm or Adapt

Once you’ve isolated and evaluated, it’s time to either reaffirm that a controllable variable is important to your strategy or it’s time to adapt it. Either way, get on with it quickly. If under-performing data reveals anything, it’s that appropriate urgency is a must.


4. Measure fast and often

Once you’ve reaffirmed or adapted a variable, you have to measure progress (around that variable) fast and often. Consistent measurement, in short time horizons, enables your tribe to determine if the solution you’re creating is progressing. Don’t be sluggish on measurement.


5.  Listen to the results of the measurement

This takes us full circle, if you will. As your measurements come in, you have to listen to what they tell you. Again, solution creating tribes don’t interpret data in order to put themselves in an overly favorable light. They let the data speak. And once the data speaks, they go back to step one. Rinse and repeat.