How to Predict the Wrong FutureDec 23, 2021
By Dino Tartaglia.
Your Personal 'Star Chart'
In the year of my birth, Robert McNamara became the US Secretary of Defense, and he remained in the post for several years until 1968.
McNamara was obsessed with the idea of making decisions based ONLY on quantitative analysis, purely data-driven, on just the numbers.
This gave rise to his treatment of a significant aspect of the Vietnam War, where enemy body counts were taken to be a precise and objective measure of success.
In a bizarre departure from reality, war was reduced to a mathematical model: by increasing enemy deaths and minimising one's death toll, victory was assured.
Key to this decision was the idea that one soldier was, in the abstract, more or less equal to another and that with the proper training and superior equipment, he would factor positively in the mathematics of warfare. Unsurprisingly, this approach - that metrics alone, ignoring ALL other factors, should drive decisions - was eventually debunked...but not before it wreaked havoc on thousands of families.
In essence, McNamara's methodology predicted the WRONG future because it extrapolated predictions from an insufficient range of information. Using quantitative observations/ metrics/ cold data in isolation, at the expense of richer information, context and, dare I say it, common sense makes no sense, does it?
And yet, an entire nation effectively supported this approach for a time, quite probably because of the logic of the argument - that the other observations, which are not quantifiable, cannot, therefore, be proven and have no value in the decision-making process.
Sounds crazy when you see it laid out cold in this way, right? But it's staggeringly easy to fall prey to.
How to avoid being blown Off-Course
Deconstructing the thinking behind McNamara's rationale, his 'formula' for decision making if you will, we see a descent through 'reasonable' into thought-blindness and the death of reason. Such was the magnitude of the error in this approach that it became known as the McNamara Fallacy.
But it was never McNamara's intention to end up in this place, to end up so fatally 'off-course', as it were.
The problem with the average Brilliant Business owner, the practitioner who is brilliant at what they do and is pushing, testing, struggling, trying their best to grow a business based on their expertise, is that they do the EXACT OPPOSITE of what McNamara did, and end up in an equally 'wrong' place.
They IGNORE the data and the story that they tell.
The average Brilliant Business owner may be brilliant at what they do but typically has no clue about their numbers. They fail to drive their business on metrics. They prefer helping clients - the practice of their business (the Technician role) - to the running of their business (the Entrepreneur, Manager & Leader roles).
This is something I covered way back when in The Five Fatal Mistakes (now available as a free PDF download on our website and as a free Learning Unit in our FB Group, Success Unlocked). The reality is that data and metrics are CRITICAL to the safe and effective running of your business IF you have the right metrics to focus on AND you understand the real story they tell you. For this, context is critical.
You need to become competent in turning the numbers back into the story they came from. What are they telling you? What picture or story do they paint? Having the right set of metrics will make your success journey a whole lot safer and smoother. They guide you like the stars guide a competent navigator.
Follow your True North
And if you add in some other, always-missed metrics to the mix, they'll collectively form your own, personal Star Chart, keeping you focused on what we call your True North, helping to guide you through the storms and challenges of building this business you so desperately want to build, to provide the impact, the reach, and all the things that Matter Most to you.
What are these metrics that are never, ever given to you?
- They're the measure of your CHARACTER; more accurately, your CHARACTERISTICS or 'Traits'.
- How much INTEGRITY do you exhibit?
- How COURAGEOUS are you?
- What level of RESILIENCE do you have?
- What number, from 0 to 10, would you assign to your level of CONSISTENCY?
These, and many other characteristics, the things that show you and the world who you truly are, are both measurable - entirely on your own, arbitrary 'scale' - and capable of being developed, something Simon Hartley wrote about brilliantly in his book, How to Develop Character.
Like another of his books, Two Lengths of the Pool, the size of the book (it's a 60-minute read), belies its power.
Our BEHAVIOURS are the feedback loop, which gives context to the 'data' or metrics we build up.
We can believe that our beliefs and values are aligned, that we are 'good people', that we are 'well adjusted', and that our Character, therefore, as an expression of our Beliefs, Values and Identity, is' solid'.
But, when we stress test this theory, we find ourselves in a situation where we might, for example, clearly enter into a pattern of self-sabotage.
Or we step away from something we should do
Or fail to charge appropriately for what we offer.
Whatever the indicator(s), we can see, by measuring and monitoring the 'outputs', our behaviours, and the outcomes and results, that we have a story we need to better understand. That requires working backwards to turn those 'metrics' into that story.
- WHAT causes me to self-sabotage?
- WHY did I step back that time?
- WHERE is this resistance to not charging appropriately coming from?
IF you use your metrics as your 'Personal Star Chart', your metrics will guide you.
The big takeaway here?
We can begin to identify & solve our problems by understanding the story our metrics tell us.
We need the right metrics for our business and ourselves to do this. Our performance is too critical to the business performance to be otherwise.
THEREFORE, to better solve our problems, we need to look not just at our business mechanics but at the CONTEXT of these, which means looking at every aspect of our performance, including ourselves.
What metrics can YOU set up to better tell you the complete story of your business performance?
Make Better Decisions
As well as measuring both the business and our performance, one critical area to focus on is how and when we make decisions. In fact, the second part of that is easy to identify, and it's all the time.
Sometimes it's exercising choice (which is a little different), but most of the time, we're making decisions constantly as entrepreneurs. This means there's a LOT of our headspace and energy being used, even if we are conscious of it. Thinking takes a tremendous amount of brain energy, so anything that reduces the Cognitive Load should be very welcome because energy is one of those resources we need a whack of, and it's often in a much shorter supply than it needs to be.
Reducing Cognitive Load is why the late, great Steve Jobs famously always wore the same 'uniform' - a black polo neck, jeans & sneakers; just one less decision for his brain to make every morning.
There are TWO things to consider when looking at how you make decisions:
- Making sure that you consider the Downside as well as the Upside, and only enter into things / making decisions that have a much more significant potential for Upside than Downside. This is what Asymmetric Risk is all about [something I'll most probably write an article on next year].
- Have a framework to help you work through the bigger decisions. At Success Engineers, we've developed a 4-part process that we call the R4 Decision Making Framework. This is something we teach to and support the members of our paid Group, The Excellerator, in embedding in their businesses, and it makes a HUGE difference.
Where you are is a direct function of the decisions you've made and the choices you've exercised. If you want to know why you're where you are, hop on a call with a great coach and discuss the decisions you've made over the last year. The reasons will show up REALLY quickly, trust me, and they'll all be a function of decisions you've made, consciously or otherwise.
Focus on 'Better'
At Success Engineers, our sole focus is to help you Build a Better Business. We do this together by showing you how to Grow Better, Build Better and BE Better and supporting you through that growth. Because ALL change for the better starts with behavioural and personal transformation, and no one does that successfully on their own, not if they're in business for the long game.
This 3-part series from October 2021 to this month in The Female CEO Magazine has been focused on helping you' rig the game' in your favour, because Life (and Business) isn't 'fair', so your best bet is to work the systems that bend Fortune in your favour when pretty much all your competitors will be either buying their success (heavy advertising) or struggling with the same stuff that besets everyone who doesn't Ask Better Questions and therefore takes More Effective Action.
I hope that it's been beneficial for you.
If you've got questions about anything I've covered, shout! I'm pretty responsive.
To your inevitable success!
Dino Tartaglia is a former Electronics Engineer, now a businessman, mentor, coach and troubleshooter working to help you, if you’re a coach, consultant, creative or service provider, to Build a Joyful, Dependable Business around Being Brilliant at What You Do.
In his own coaching, and together with world-class coach Simon Hartley, the other half of Success Engineers (their joint business), he helps you to improve your thinking to ask better questions, so that you solve the right problems in your business at the right time, develop your own personal performance as a business owner and get closer to What Matters Most.
Stay connected with news and updates!
Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.
We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason. Ever.